(CN) – A sheriff’s deputy accused of repeatedly slamming a handcuffed doctor against the corner of a concrete wall – hard enough to break his ribs and cause a leaking aneurysm – should have known that he was using excessive force, the 11th Circuit ruled.
The Atlanta-based appeals court denied qualified immunity to Henry Bruce, a Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputy accused of roughing up Adolfo Galvez at his walk-in clinic in Brandon, Fla.
The altercation began when Bruce tried to settle a dispute between Galvez and a teenage girl whose car overheated in the clinic parking lot. Galvez had taken the girl’s driver’s license in case she tried to dump the car there. When Galvez refused to return it, police were called.
Galvez said Bruce handcuffed him for failing to comply with the officer’s “loud, authoritative” requests for the license. The two men allegedly struggled over the ID and confidential patient records that Bruce grabbed while reaching for the license.
Once Galvez was in cuffs, he purportedly cooperated and stopped resisting.
That’s when Bruce slammed him into the corner edge of the carport, Galvez claimed.
Bruce charged Galvez with petit theft and resisting arrest without violence, but the misdemeanor charges were eventually dropped.
The court reversed summary judgment for Bruce, ruling that a jury could find that he violated the plaintiff’s constitutional rights.