CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (CN) - A man plowing snow for a church pastor claims a police chief violently and falsely arrested him, and that when he asked the chief to take it easy because he was disabled, the chief said, "Disabled my ass," and kneed him in the back, dislocating four spinal probes.
Floyd Teter Jr. sued the Town of Terra Alta and its Police Chief Justin Burke Childers, in Federal Court.
Teter says the governor declared a state of emergency after a February blizzard this year. Teter borrowed a friend's tractor to help clear roads, friends' driveways and fire hydrants when a church pastor asked him to help out, fearing someone would be injured trying to drive through the snow-covered intersection.
Teter says state Department of Highways workers gave him a "thumbs up" for his work.
Then Chief Childers appeared and complained about Teter's snow plowing. Teter says he parked the tractor in the church parking lot, and Childers jumped out of his police cruiser and arrested and handcuffed him.
Teter, who had undergone spinal surgery and had 16 probes implanted near his spinal cord, says he told Childers he was disabled from spinal surgery and asked him not to cuff him behind his back.
"In response, defendant Childers threw Mr. Teter into the snow on his face, pushed his knee between Mr. Teter's shoulder blades in the exact spot where Mr. Teter had 16 probes implanted near his spinal cord, and handcuffed him," according to the complaint.
"Mr. Teter told defendant Childers he was hurting him and asked him to call an ambulance because he feared the defendant had moved the probes and his spinal cord would be injured.
"In response, defendant Childers rolled Mr. Teter onto his back, yelled, 'Disabled my ass,' and pushed his boot into Mr. Teter's chest."
Teter was hospitalized, then taken to a jail and booked on charges of "obstructing an officer and putting materials on a highway."
He was sent to another jail, "where he was strip searched, sprayed by a garden sprayer with delousing chemicals over his entire body, and put into a jail cell," the complaint states.
"Mr. Teter was released from jail on February 20, 2010 after posting $500 bail.
"When he arrived back home, Mr. Teter learned that defendant Childers had impounded the tractor despite the fact that Mr. Teter left it parked in a church parking lot and Mr. Teter's son also told defendant Childers he would remove the tractor from the lot.
"Mr. Teter had to pay $150 in towing and storage fees to retrieve the tractor.
"Mr. Teter had to hire an attorney to defend himself at four court hearings against charges that were ultimately dismissed by state prosecutors due to insufficient evidence.
"When Mr. Teter was able to see his own physician, he learned that four of his sixteen spinal probes needed to be adjusted because they had shifted dangerously close to his spinal cord as a result of his arrest. Mr. Teter's leg and neck have also been in pain since his arrest and one of his spinal vertebrae continues to move out of place."
Teter seeks punitive damages for false arrest, excessive force, malicious prosecution and civil rights violations.
He is represented by D. Aaron Rihn with Robert Peirce & Associates, of Pittsburgh.
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