Thursday, December 21, 2017

Violent, bloody police beating of Michigan woman enhances our concerns about possible brain damage that Carol sustained during our Missouri eviction

Tiffany McNeil
A Michigan woman who was left bleeding and unconscious after her arrest in July is suing the police department whose officers brutalized her. The case of Tiffany McNeil produced one of the most horrifying videos of police violence we have ever seen. But it is similar, in a number of respects, to what Missouri deputies did to my wife, Carol, during an unlawful eviction in November 2015.

The video shows Coldwater, MI, officer Lewis Eastmead holding McNeil face-first against a brick wall at the police station before suddenly turning, and with her in handcuffs, throwing her to a concrete floor. The federal complaint says McNeil immediately was knocked unconscious, and the video shows blood coming from her face. A report at said McNeil had to be taken to the hospital, where she received 17 stitches for a cut over her eye and was diagnosed with a concussion. (The video is embedded at the end of this post.)

That last health-related item reminds us of an issue that has become of particular concern in Carol's case. As I've reported here at Legal Schnauzer, Greene County, MO, deputies burst into our duplex apartment and threw Carol, who had been looking out the peephole, up against a wall. While handcuffing her, one or more officers slammed her head, face-first, into the wall multiple times -- hard enough to knock her glasses off her face and a cell phone out of her hand.

About 30 minutes later, as the eviction was nearing an end, a male officer in a blue shirt grabbed Carol from behind as she was trying to enter the apartment -- as she had been given permission to do -- to retrieve our cat's litter box.  The officer body slammed Carol to the ground, butt-first, and then yanked viciously on her limbs -- breaking her left arm into more than two pieces and leaving her right armed bruised deep purple for pretty much its full length.

My view of the first incident was limited because Sheriff Jim Arnott was placing me in handcuffs and turning me around -- plus, Officer Scott Harrison had an assault rifle pointed at my head, so my attention was a bit diverted. I saw the full second incident, from 15-20 feet away, and immediately recognized that it was violent enough to possibly cause a concussion. Based on Carol's account of how hard her head was slammed during the first incident, it's possible (likely?) that she sustained two concussions in about 30 minutes.

One week after the eviction, Carol underwent almost eight hours of trauma surgery to repair her shattered left arm. During that time, she never was examined or treated for a concussion. I've written about our concerns about a possible concussion multiple times since the eviction, and those concerns only have grown stronger. In the roughly two years and three months since Carol's injuries, we've noticed a clear decline or disturbance in her cognitive abilities. The changes have become increasingly noticeable over the past 16 months or so.

We're talking about a 57-year-old woman who was valedictorian of her high school class, made straight A's at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), and worked 18 years for Alabama Power, one of the largest and most respected employers in her home state. In the 30 years that I've known her, Carol always has shown strong powers of perception and memory. But it now is almost a daily occurrence for her to have trouble expressing herself verbally. She will speak, for example, three sentences, and they might be so jumbled that I am left wondering what on earth she is trying to say.

X-ray of Carol Shuler's broken
arm before surgical repair.
I will go into more detail in future posts, but this is not the same woman I've known for most of our adult lives. That she was the victim of cop-induced head trauma -- not to mention the stress of then having cops bring bogus criminal charges against her . . . well, I don't think it's a coincidence that she now exhibits signs of garbled thinking. Is it because Carol has a scrambled brain that never has never been assessed or treated -- especially since we don't have health insurance, thanks to the conservative thugs (Rob Riley, Doug Jones?) who cheated us out of our jobs at UAB (me) and Infinity Insurance (Carol)?

Our concerns have grown severe enough that we intend to consult lawyers who specialize in traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases. My focus has been mainly with the injury we could see -- the broken arm. We now are increasingly focused on the possibility of an injury we can't see -- one that is inside Carol's head and affects her ability to function.

Unlike the Tiffany McNeil case, the pummeling Carol took did not produce blood or facial cuts. But we might have been better off if it had. That might have tipped emergency-room personnel -- the ones who diagnosed Carol's broken arm -- to check for head-related damage.

Speaking of the McNeil case, here is perhaps the most disturbing similarity it has with Carol's situation. We've shown that Missouri deputies lied repeatedly in their written reports about the incident, going so far as to suggest Carol broke her own arm by flailing about in the back seat of a patrol car. Of course, the worst example of dishonesty here in Missouri are the bogus "assault of a law enforcement officer" charges -- brought even though the "victim," Officer Jeremy Lynn, admits in writing that he "knowingly caused physical contact" with Carol, meaning she could not have assaulted him, under the Missouri statute.

Here is how police dishonesty reared its head in the McNeil case. Michigan attorney Solomon Radner is representing McNeil. From the Coldwater Daily Reporter:

The suit contends that Eastmead and [Officer Matt] Schoenauer both filed false police reports to justify charging McNeil with resisting arrest. It claimed [Officer Suleiman] Sumbal omitted facts from his report that would have shown the statements were false.

The suit claimed the reports allowed McNeill to be charged with felony resisting arrest in an effort to obtain a plea bargain.

That kind of deceit is right out of the playbook being used against Carol here in southwest Missouri.

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