Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Original X-rays of my wife's broken arm illustrate the viciousness with which a Missouri deputy attacked her

X-ray of Carol Shuler's shattered arm, broken by a Missouri deputy. This image, taken before any repair efforts, shows that the force was so violent that the humerus (the large bone in the upper arm) almost was forced through the skin. 
(X-ray from Cox North Medical Center, Springfield, MO,)

How violent was a Missouri deputy's assault on my wife that left her with a shattered left arm during an unlawful eviction on September 9? The image above provides the best answer we have so far to that question.

How corrupt and dishonest was Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott, who oversaw the eviction and was standing about five feet away when one of his deputies slammed Carol to the ground and violently yanked her arms in a backward and upper motion? The circumstances surrounding the origins of the above image provide a solid answer to that question.

We've presented several X-rays of Carol's broken arm after it was repaired by Dr. Brian Buck, a trauma surgeon at Cox South Medical Center in Springfield, Missouri, and at the University of Missouri Health System in Columbia. (See here and here.) Those images are hard to look at--at least for me--with nine screws that we can count and multiple titanium plates holding Carol's arm in place.

But the above image is the first one we've shown of the original damage--showing the jagged edges of her humerus (the large bone in the upper arm), with what appears to be a piece of the bone left hanging just above the elbow joint. You also can see that the force almost drove the bone through the skin, and caregivers said parts of the bone were essentially pulverized and could not be salvaged. Our understanding is that the plates and screws were implanted, in part, so that the remaining pieces of bone can grow together, filling in where parts of bone no longer exist.

I have a hard time looking at this image without throwing up--and I don't think it's entirely because that arm happens to be attached to my wife. It makes me sick that one human--a so-called "officer of the law"--could do this to another. And what are the repercussions for Carol? She's going to need at least eight weeks of physical therapy, and we don't know how we are going to pay for it. On top of that, therapists say a good result for such a severe injury might be 75 percent usage of her arm--that is significantly down from the 95 percent figure we originally were hoping for.

Why are we just now presenting these images of the original damage? That brings us back to Sheriff Jim Arnott, and we will examine that question further in an upcoming post.


Anonymous said...

This is horrifying. So sorry Carol had to go through this.

Anonymous said...

Have you approached organizations like the ACLU or southern poverty law center to help in your fight?

legalschnauzer said...

Thank you, @12:14. The process is a long way from over. She's got a minimum of eight weeks of physical therapy ahead, and the best outcome might be 75-percent usage of her arm.

Right now, we have no idea how we are going to pay for the physical therapy. It isn't covered by our insurance.

Anonymous said...

Whew, that X-ray takes my breath away. Pulling for Carol to get justice against this SOB cop and his sorry-ass sheriff/boss.

Anonymous said...

Fascist police...you need to have a personal lawsuit against the officer.....by Marci gold

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, @12:15, we have approached them, and they have pretty much been useless. ACLU filed an amicus brief stating that my incarceration was wildly unlawful but did not offer to actually represent me. I think I contacted the SPLC a long time ago, and my memory is that I didn't even receive a reply. Is Morris Dees and his crowd afraid to take on the corrupt GOP establishment in Alabama? My impression is that the answer is yes.

I would encourage anyone who cares to do so to contact SPLC about our situation and see what kind of response you get.

Our experience has been that these types of ogranizations, including the Equal Justice Iniative, are much more helpful on paper than they are in reality--especially if you don't fit in whatever demographic they apparently seek to help.

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks, Marci. This is particularly egregious when you consider that, by law, there was a stay on the eviction, so cops had no legal grounds to be on the premises. This is the kind of thing that happens when you have a corrupt individual, Jim Arnott, leading a sheriff's department. He's a lot like Chris Curry in Shelby County, Alabama, maybe worse--and I didn't think that was possible.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how that's not a felony assault. The thug who did this needs to be in prison. He's worse than the thug in South Carolina.

Anonymous said...

It's not a felony assault when it's an officer attempting to make an arrest. The "thug" in South Carolina was arresting a resisting subject for disrupting the school.

Anonymous said...

Do you have access to the incident/arrest report?

Was the injury from the fall, the forcible handcuffing, or both?

Do you have any diagnosis of the full nature of the fracture from the physician or the type of trauma that would typically result in similar injuries?

I understand from your writing that Carol has a thyroid problem, but not the nature of that problem. Some conditions affecting thyroid function can lead to poor bone strength (an "eggshell skull" situation, which doesn't get someone committing a tort off the hook). This would need to be addressed and I presume if it were the case the doctor would have already discussed it with you. FWIW Missouri recognizes comparative negligence, so even if Carol were deterimned to have had some fault, there would be a question of apportionment instead of a total ban on recovery. Perhaps you could get an attorney and negotiate some medical treatment, at the very least?

Anonymous said...

Also, has social services or the hospitalist mentioned any assistance that could be available to you as low-asset patients without insurance coverage? You canontact the Patient Accounts department and ask for hardship assistance. If you get an licensed Missouri attorney to say you might have a compensable injury (this is doubtful, but possible), they might accept a lien instead of direct payment.

As you plan for the immediate future and Carol's care needs, considering contact a local college or university to inquire about possible therapy services provided by physical therapy student.

Anonymous said...

Wow. That's horrifying. Hope her arms heals soon.

Anonymous said...

I think you need to be realistic about the validity of your "stay". I read the documents you put up, and I don't honestly think you understood your rights or obligations correctly. That will all come out in the wash and I don't intend to persuade you, except to *be prepared for that outcome.* That's not the same as "don't make your case" - I just mean that your case is not as strong as you insist it is.

The worst is you thought you could stay an interlocutory judgement, you can't. This mistake led to the confrontation that ended so very badly.

You have mentioned conservatorship...does your mother have a probate conservatorship situation? If others are charged with preserving her assets, this might be why your mother (through her represenatives) opted not only to not to renew the lease, but actively withdrew from it, thus ending her obligation at once and decisively.

legalschnauzer said...

Sorry, @2:36, but you don't know what you're talking about. I've researched Missouri law on this extensively, and the judge did not issue an interlocutory order. She issued an appealable order, we paid the fee, the fee was accepted, and the court record shows the appeal was properly filed. If you have some Missouri law that shows this was an interlocutory order (it wasn't), and it was not appealable (it was), feel free to send it our way. But a blanket statement from a anon commenter who can provide zero citations to law doesn't carry much weight.

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks, @2:15, we are considering a number of options at the moment.

legalschnauzer said...

@2:07, I'm not aware of any incident/arrest report, although we are working on obtaining all relevant evidence. First, Carol didn't fall. She was slammed to the ground, and I believe she sustained a concussion from the force, although she hasn't been diagnosed with one. I saw the whole event, and my impression is that the break probably occurred from violent yanking on her arms, either before handcuffing, after, or both. I'm not aware of Carol having any bone weakness due to thyroid function. We've asked a few questions of the surgeon, but he has always been busy, so we've tried not to burden him with too much. Our main question has been: "How many fractures were there?" His answer once was "too many." A second time, his answer was "enough." Medical records should tell the full story, and we will be working on getting those.

I'm not sure of any facts that point to Carol being negligent. I can't predict the future, but I see this as a case that involves much more than a negotiation of medical treatment.

A question any reasonable person should be asking: Why was Carol being handcuffed if she committed no crime, as the record shows.

legalschnauzer said...

The officer wasn't attempting an arrest of Carol, @1:57. She had done nothing to be arrested for, and the record reflects that.

As for the thug in South Carolina, several national groups have started petitions to have him charged with assault. I haven't researched the law on that myself, but have you? You know more than groups like MoveOn.org?

Anonymous said...

This whole scenario reminds me of the movie "99 Homes," which is about America's foreclosure crisis near the end of the Bush years. It's a painful movie to watch, but it's extremely well done, and I highly recommend it.

Anonymous said...

Can't imagine how much pain Carol must have been in when this happened. This X-ray makes me very angry.

Anonymous said...

Are you brain dead, @1:57? Here is just one of many cases where cops have been charged with felony assault from an arrest:


Anonymous said...

Let me see if I have this straight: The sheriff of Greene County, Missouri, witnessed the actions that led to this X-ray--I think you said he was about five feet away? So why is this deputy still on the force? Why hasn't he already been fired?

legalschnauzer said...

Very good questions, @3:39. I think the answers lie in two words--"cover up."

Spaz said...

This X-ray and post need to go viral. Disgusting to think that a cop did this to a woman, to anyone.

Anonymous said...

Here's another story about a cop facing felony assault charges after a violent arrest:


I guess some commenters are too stupid or too lazy to bother with the truth.

Anonymous said...

We're talking here about a cop without a conscience.

Anonymous said...

I think it's self-evident why she was handcuffed - there was either some misunderstanding on her part or the officer's part about her permission to return to the premises, and a decision was made to use force to prevent it.

You have written that she had permission, or believed she did, to enter the apartment and collect personal items. It's possible she was told not to re-enter, or that an officer did not know she had been given permission to enter.

You have described her walking towards the apartment, then being brought to the ground and handcuffed (and extremely harshly) and you have also described the sheriff saying that she attacked an officer.

How much room for mistake in the confrontation is there? By that I mean misunderstanding of orders or a miscommunication to one or more of the officers. Did Carol ignore, speak dismissively to an order, or push back against someone blocking her path? Did she accidently or on purpose open a door on someone? Did she try to pull an officer's hands off of her? Did she brush past an officer? Was she chased? Had someone told her to wait? For example, arguments that the eviction should not take place notwithstanding, they were there to carry out a lawful eviction, and would have forbidden her to re-enter the apartment without permission and she would not have been permitted to re-enter without escort.

This is why I want to see the incident report - I want to see what justification will be used for the use of force.

It's possible Carol was indignant enough to lash out, and possible she had no intention of doing anything but complying with instructions.

It's possible that there was mistake. It's possible that all these things happened and the officer still used improper technique and unusual force.

Don't take this the wrong way. I'm trying to imaging the worst case possible against Carol to judge whether the officer could STILL be at fault.

Did she speak to anyone? What did she say?

SarahW said...

You say "the record reflects" she did nothing to provoke any arrest - and that may be true - but there is no incident/arrest report yet. You need to know what they allege.

There should be documents connected to her being arrested and taken to the jail.

Anonymous said...

Your missing the point about the South Carolina incident, there was no injury, therefore there is no assault. She resisted arrest and the officer used force to subdue her. I will concede that I phrased it in general terms, but the fact that I was speaking of that incident should have led a reasonable person to understand. I don't know all the facts about the other incidents you listed, but the one where they continued to hit and kick the offender doesn't disprove my statement. The force used to subdue an offender has to be reasonable based off the offenders level of non-compliance. Any force used after the offender is restrained and compliant doesn't occur during the arrest, so that example doesn't fit. Good try though.

Anonymous said...

@3:20. I used the word "fall" but that doesn't mean she wasn't pushed or forced down. I used that term because it's the going to the ground quickly that may have resulted in the fracture. Distal fractures if the humerus usually happen when someone falls fast to the ground, and either lands with force in the elbow, or more typical reflexively braces with an outstretched hand when falling backward.
Bone weakening/ thinning might have been an issue. Anyone can get osteoporosis though bone loss accelerates at menopause. And like I said, there are medical conditions are bad for bones. A thyroid that is too active or not active enough can hurt your bones. In any casem t this aspect of carols health! her bone health, is addressed for the long term.

legalschnauzer said...

She was slammed to the ground, @9:30, and I saw it, so I just wanted to make sure this wasn't seen as a trip or a light push. This was vicious, and the X-ray shows that. An expert would need to testify as to exactly what caused such a severe break, but my guess is that it was a combination of the violent arm jerking and being slammed to the ground. Had Carol been upright, I don't think the jerking on her arms would have been so violent. Try standing up and putting your hands behind your back, then try sitting down, putting your hands behind your back and have someone lightly jerk on them in an upward and backward motion. That will give you some idea of what Carol experienced, except the jerking wasn't light, it was violent.

As far as Carol's bones, I can only tell you she never has been diagnosed as having any kind of bone condition. Even if she had, are you saying that excuses police brutality, and these resulting injuries? I haven't researched the subject, but I don't think cops get a break if a subject has a medical condition. That's why they need to treat people carefully and respectfully. They also don't need to be arresting people who haven't done anything to be arrested for.

The guy who beat me up in my own garage in Alabama, he didn't know whether I had diabetes or epilepsy or some other condition that could have contributed to my death under such an assault. And he definitely had no grounds to arrest me. Fortunately, I'm a pretty healthy 58 year old male, but quite a few men my age would not have survived what was done to me. And the attack on Carol was even more vicious.

BTW, the medical team handling Carol's recovery has made no mention of Carol having a bone condition. That certainly should be an issue of concern for them, and I would guess they checked for that. I'm not aware that they found anything.

legalschnauzer said...

I don't know if there was an injury in SC or not, @9:17, but the threshold for an injury that qualifies as assault, under Alabama law is very low. It can be a small scrape, a bruise, most anything that wasn't there before the assault. I'm sure this young woman's lawyers will have her checked thoroughly for possible bone and nerve damage that might not be readily apparent.

Anyone who is dumped on her head and dragged across the floor like that is likely to have some kind of injury, even if she is more supple than most of us older folks.

If South Carolina law is similar to Alabama's, and I'm guessing it is, this almost certainly meets the definition for assault. The question is whether it rises to the level of felony or stays at misdemeanor level.

As for Carol's case, there is no question that injury qualifies as felony assault. What was done to me in our Alabama garage also qualifies as civil assault and battery, and possibly criminal assault.

legalschnauzer said...

SarahW: I mean that the record, as we know it at the moment, reflects Carol did nothing to provoke an arrest. Plus, I was an eyewitness, and I know she did nothing to provoke an arrest--she did nothing to be arrested for. What's the charge going to be--"improper attempt to retrieve cat's litter box"? I don't think you will find that one in the Missouri criminal code.

All I know for sure is that Carol was handcuffed and taken to jail. Does that constitute an arrest? I'm not sure, but I suspect it does. My understanding is that a person arrested has a right to know in a speedy fashion what he or she is charged with. Here we are almost two months later, and Carol has not been informed of anything.

That tells me Sheriff Arnott knew his original "she assaulted a police officer" claim was bogus, and he decided--after finding out a deputy had shattered her arm--that it would not be a good idea to carry that "charge" forward. The evidence obviously suggests that Carol was the "assaultee," not the "assaulter."

Arnott, like most corrupt individuals (most individuals, period), is interested in self preservation. He knows he can't very well stand before a jury and claim Carol assaulted a police officer when she's the one with the shattered arm, and none of the three officers surrounding her during the assault probably suffered a single scratch.

legalschnauzer said...

Many of the questions you asked, @5:47, will have to be answered down the road. We are in the process of gathering evidence, and that might take a while. I can address a couple of issues you raise right now:

* The officers were not there to carry out a lawful eviction. The eviction was stayed, by our notice of appeal (which you can see at case.net), and the eviction was unlawfully scheduled inside the 10-day window when an eviction cannot, by law, be levied.

* Were there misunderstandings and miscommunications? That's possible in any situation, especially one this chaotic, with assault rifles and handguns being waved about. But that still doesn't explain why cops were there when they could not lawfully be there. Also, I'm not aware of any law that excuses police brutality because someone miscommunicated something--and I'm not sure that even happened. I know Carol was told she could enter the apartment and retrieve belongings; I heard it. And I never heard anyone say she had to gather everything in one trip.

I'm not sure about the law on this, but I'm not aware that police officers have the right to keep people in an eviction from trying to gather as many of their belongings as they can. That stuff belonged to us, and we were entitled (I believe, under the law) to get as much of it as we could. My understanding is that cops' role in an eviction usually is to make sure things stay orderly. In this case, there SWAT team tactics created disorder where none had been present.

* As for your theory about a door, Carol got nowhere near a door. She was assaulted before she even got to the landing area that led to our door. She was assaulted on the sidewalk and on the grassy area beside our sidewalk.

If you have questions for Carol, feel free to contact her at her Facebook page. I imagine she would be glad to answer them:


Anonymous said...

@11:37. "The door" - this is what I am referring to: In your first description of your handcuffing and Carol being taken to the ground by two officers, you describe Carol standing by the door trying to see what was going on through the peephole. Officers burst in, and as they did, she was slammed against the wall. In that first recounting, there isn't much space between that slam and Carol being knocked down and roughly handcuffed.

Depending on the time sequence of events , I thought it possible the door recoiled or carol reflexively pushed back against the door. Depending on the forces involved, it might even have hurt Carol's elbow right then (which doesn't exclude other traumatic forces from making her injury worse).

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that, once removed, the tenant has no legal reason to re-enter the apartment. They would be trespassing. The landlord must remove the items to the curb where the former tenant can retrieve them.

You should also note that someone receiving an injury during an arrest does not automatically rise to police brutality or an assault. Officers are not required to be familiar with a persons medical history to use force during an arrest, as long as the force used was reasonable. I'm sure injuries occur all the time from people resisting arrest. The moral of the story is don't resist.

legalschnauzer said...

Can you cite any law to support your "understanding" of the law, @4:52? I doubt it.

There is no doubt that the deputies had no lawful grounds to be on the property, according to this article on Missouri tenant-landlord law: http://www.chaselawpc.com/wordpress1/all-about-landlord-tenant-law/

"Wait before Execution: With Rent & Possession suits, there is a 10-day waiting period before Execution of the Judgment for Possession of the Premises."

You are welcome to look up the case on case.net, and you will see we also filed a notice of appeal inside the 10-day window, which puts a stay on execution. The court record shows we followed procedure to the letter. (http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/stathtml/53400003801.html)

Under two rules of law, deputies had no grounds for being there. Therefore, any points you make, are meaningless.

If you can find a report that shows Carol Tovich Shuler was arrested for something, please let me know. If you can't find it, that means she wasn't resisting an arrest--because she wasn't arrested and not charged with anything.

legalschnauzer said...

I think you are confused, @4:11. Carol was looking out the peephole of the door, from the inside, as deputies burst into our apartment. The force of them bursting in threw her up against a wall. But that's not when her arm was broken. That came after we both had been handcuffed and led outside. She had been given permission to enter the apartment and retrieve as many of our personal belongings as possible. (I had been given the same permission, but she was told to go in first, while I waited outside.) That's what she was trying to do when three deputies surrounded her and one slammed her to the ground and yanked on her arms, producing the break you see in the X-ray.

The assault that broke her arm occurred well before she was able to reach the door from the outside. I think she might have sustained a concussion, either from being thrown up against the wall inside the apartment or being slammed to the ground outside the apartment.

Anonymous said...

Who gave you permission to enter the residence?

Based on what you described, Carol was arrested. She may have been released without charges, but she was arrested. Most states can hold someone for a set time, under certain circumstances, without bringing charges at that time. I'm sure after she is better, there will be a couple of warrants.

legalschnauzer said...

The same deputies that told Carol she could go in the residence said I could go in when she was finished.

I agree that Carol probably was technically arrested, and she was taken to jail, so we probably are talking about both false arrest and false imprisonment here.

So there is some law out there that says it's OK to issue a "couple of warrants" (why two?) after someone is "better," when the sheriff's own actions show there were no grounds to charge her with anything in the first place.

Is it fun to be that big a suck-up for law enforcement and that clueless about the law?

Anonymous said...

When I said who gave you permission, I meant which officer gave you permission? Was it the Sheriff, the deputy that pushed her to the ground or another officer.

I predict a warrant for resisting and one for whatever the original charge was. Since I am speculating from another state, I would guess either assault, harassment or trespassing. There may be more than two, but I predict at least two. Is there a law that says a warrant and arrest have to be made at the time of the offense? No, a warrant has to sworn to before the statute of limitations has ran out. It varies by state law, but misdemeanors usually have a year and felonies more time.

Anonymous said...

11:29 AM Thanks for the clarification. One new point of confusion for me: you wrote "when her arm was broken[...] came after we both had been handcuffed and led outside.

I had understood that they place you in handcuffs before taking you out of the apartment, are you saying Carol was also handcuffed before leaving the apartment? Did they take her handcuffs off at some point? Or was Carol only handcuffed after being knocked down?

legalschnauzer said...

Carol was handcuffed twice, @12:11. The first time is when cops burst into the apartment with weapons drawn. We were both handcuffed at that point and led outside. The cops removed Carol's cuffs, told her she could go in and retrieve belongings and said I could go in when she was finished. She had brought out some items and put them in the trunk of our car and was returning to finish her part when deputies jumped her, she was slammed to the ground, handcuffed again, and her arm was broken.

legalschnauzer said...

Multiple officers gave us permission; I don't know their names, @8:12. I intend to find out their names shortly.

As for your predictions, you don't know the facts of the situation, and I doubt that you even know the legal definitions of assault, harassment, or trespassing. Readers are free to come to their own conclusions, but your predictions have about the same value as a warm cup of spit to me.

Anonymous said...

"which officer gave you permission? Was it the Sheriff, the deputy that pushed her to the ground or another officer."

This was a question I had, too. Were the officers that knocked her down the same ones that gave permission, or a different set, who might not have understood why she was headed into the apartment? Did she have any escort on her first trip inside to gather belongings?

legalschnauzer said...

As I've reported, 2:33, there were 6-8 officers on the scene (that we saw; could have been more in nearby vehicles, I don't know.) Carol and I heard from 3-4 different officers that the plan was for her to go in and retrieve some belongings, and when she was done, for me to go in and do the same thing. My impression is that every officer on the premises was aware of these instructions. I never heard any of them contend that we weren't to retrieve as many of our belongings as we could gather and get in our vehicle. I'm pretty sure at least two officers escorted Carol inside on her trip, including the guy who eventually broke her arm. He clearly knew that she had been given permission to go in and get things because he had gone in with her. I think a female cop might have gone in with Carol, too, and maybe one other male cop--not sure about that.