Impossible, Polio Victim Tells Phoenix Cops
PHOENIX (CN) - After Tasering, kicking and hitting a man in the head with flashlights while calling him a "wetback," Phoenix police officers falsely accused him of assaulting them and running away, but the man can't fight or run at all because he is paralyzed on one side of his body from childhood polio, he says in a civil rights complaint.
Refugio Rodriquez sued the city, Maricopa County, Maricopa County Correctional Health Services and the three Phoenix police officers he says assaulted him in the parking lot of a church.
Rodriquez, whom the officers accused of aggravated assault against a police officer after they Tasered, kicked and hit beat him with police-issued flashlights, says he could not have assaulted the officers or run because the left side of his body is paralyzed from polio.
Rodriquez the three officers - Tedesco, Mills and Neidenbach - approached him outside of a church on May 27, 2010.
They told him "you better not run you (expletive) wetback" and then slammed him onto the concrete driveway "in a manner which obviously exceeded the minimal amount of force necessary to accomplish a lawful purpose and continued to brutally assault plaintiff Refugio in the driveway," according to the complaint in Maricopa County Court.
After they needlessly Tasered him, they handcuffed him and continued to kick and hit him in the head "with their police-issued long flashlight," the complaint states.
The officers stopped beating him after his wife, Josephine, and his two children "screamed at and pled with the defendant officers to stop the beating," according to the complaint. The officers told the wife and kids to "stay across the street or that they would be 'in trouble.'"
Rodriquez, who is 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 140 lbs., says the officers did not let his family see him after they beat him, "to cover up Refugio's bruises, scrapes and severe swelling of the head."
The officers told his wife and children "that there was nothing wrong with Refugio and that he was 'the same as when he left home awhile ago,'" the complaint states.
But at the Maryvale police station, one of his assailants asked him, "'What's the matter, you can't take an ass-whipping?'" Rodriquez says.
Rodriquez says the officers lied in their police report: that they wrote that he "ran from the officers when they first came into contact ... which is totally impossible because plaintiff cannot run due to the paralysis on the whole left side of his body since his birth with polio."
The officers "lied so they could try to cover up more lies" by claiming he had resisted and fought them, and by charging him with aggravated assault on a police officer, according to the complaint.
Rodriquez says he was taken from the Maryvale police precinct to the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail, where the intake nurse told him "he was going to be transported to the nearest hospital emergency room via an ambulance because of the severity of his injuries."
But a few minutes later the intake nurse told him that "if she sent him to the hospital emergency, she was told she would lose her job."
After Rodriquez was released on bail, his wife took him to St. Joseph's Hospital, where the emergency doctor told him that "he could have died because a blood clot near his brain was beginning to develop," the complaint states.
Rodriquez and his wife seek punitive damages and medical expenses for assault, battery, negligence, and civil rights violations. The complaint does not list the three officers' first names, but it does include their badge numbers.
The Rodriquezes are represented by Jimmy Borunda.