Video that went viral yesterday of a South Carolina sheriff's deputy body slamming and dragging a 16-year-old high school girl across a classroom floor probably was shocking to many Americans. But it was not shocking to my wife, Carol, and me.
For us, it was like living September 9, 2015, again.
That's the date a Greene County, Missouri, deputy shattered Carol's left arm during an unlawful eviction, one where officers had no lawful grounds to even be on our rented property. I saw everything the deputy did to Carol, from about 15 feet away, and it looked a lot like what you see on the video above from Spring Valley High School, near Columbia in Richland County, South Carolina.
The good news is that Ben Fields, the South Carolina officer, was fired this morning, and he remains under federal investigation because Sheriff Leon Lott quickly sought assistance from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). MoveOn.org has launched a petition, seeking to have Fields charged with assault--and we strongly support such action.
The bad news is that we see no sign that anything has happened to the Missouri officer who brutalized Carol; we do not even know his name. We doubt that the DOJ or MoveOn.org even know about Carol's case.
Our understanding is that Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott is aware Carol's arm was broken, but no one from his department has contacted us or given any sign that the incident is being investigated. A Legal Schnauzer reader contacted Arnott and reported to me that the sheriff pretty much played dumb, acting like he knew nothing about the incident--even though he was standing about five feet away when Carol was assaulted.
What was Arnott's immediate response to the assault? He lied, immediately proclaiming that Carol has assaulted the officer. A deputy drove Carol, in handcuffs, to the Greene County jail and told her she was facing a felony charge and a $100,000 bond. That only changed when Carol finally got someone to pay attention to her cries of severe pain in her arm--and X-rays immediately showed the break.
The press in Springfield, Missouri, has shown no interest in covering the story--even though police brutality has been a national issue for more than a year. We've contacted several southwest Missouri law firms that supposedly specialize in police-misconduct cases, and they have either not responded or took our basic information and then quit responding.
|X-ray of Carol Shuler's arm, showing|
multiple fracture lines after trauma
surgery that required at least nine screws
and multiple titanium plates for repair. We
will be fortunate if she regains 75 percent use
of her arm.
In cases where victims were injured, I'm not aware of many injuries that could be classified as more severe than Carol's. Ironically, the one exception that quickly comes to mind happened in Alabama--where a cop flipped a grandfather from India on his head, causing a spinal injury that might keep the victim from ever walking normally again.
As for Carol's injury, we had a follow-up visit yesterday with her surgeon, and we received X-rays of her original injury, before she had received any treatment. The images almost make me vomit, and we will be sharing them here at Legal Schnauzer soon. Carol is going to need at least eight weeks of physical therapy (three times a week, probably), and one caregiver today said the best outcome might be a return to 75-percent usage of her arm. An earlier estimate had been 95 percent, but the latest word is that we are highly unlikely to achieve that.
How do the South Carolina and Missouri cases compare? The Missouri deputy did not throw Carol backward on her head, as happened to the victim in the South Carolina case. But Carol was slammed to the ground, landing on her rear end hard enough that I still think she sustained a concussion. To my knowledge, she has not been examined for head trauma. Carol was not dragged across the ground, as happened to the South Carolina victim, but the cop jerked both of her arms in a backward and upward motion that was so severe one of her broken bones almost came through the skin.
Our understanding is that the South Carolina victim managed to escape injury, and we are grateful for that. We also are pleased that the victim is seeing some measure of justice already--and we hope more is headed her way.
For that, we suspect she can thank the classmates who used their cell phones to capture video of the assault and cause it to come to quick public attention. Without it, the South Carolina sheriff and his acolytes probably would be lying and covering up, just as we are seeing in Springfield.
It's possible video exists in Carol's case; we aren't sure if any of the half dozen or so officers was wearing a body cam. If such video is out there, it's under control of Sheriff Jim Arnott--and his department in Greene County, Missouri, seems to be doing its best to cover up the brutality inflicted on Carol.