LAS VEGAS (CN) - A wheelchair-bound paraplegic claims in court that a Las Vegas police officer broke his back, then claimed, absurdly, that he had run away after a traffic stop.
Tracey Pope, 51, sued Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and its Officer Randy Sorenson, in Federal Court.
Pope claims Metro has a custom of slanting internal reviews in favor of the involved officer.
"At the end of the internal review period by an internal Metro committee, there would be no finding of fault against the officer and no real punishment would be levied," Pope says in the complaint.
Pope says he was paralyzed in a vehicle accident in the 1980s. He can't walk without assistance and is "physically incapable of running since the incident that paralyzed him."
The 5-foot-4, 115-lb., man claims Officer Sorensen approached him in October 2011 while Pope sat in his car. Sorenson decided that he was a threat and attacked him, breaking his back in the process, Pope says. Then Sorenson cited him for DUI and took him to jail.
"On arrival to jail, it was determined that Tracey was in fact paraplegic, and had been severely injured," the complaint states.
Pope says he was taken to Sunrise Hospital in an ambulance.
"The medical records ... state 'Police state that Pt. [plaintiff] was driving erratically and drove off the road into the desert where he left his vehicle and ran away on foot," according to the complaint.
It adds: "The report, which a 'desk Sergeant' read to Tracey's doctors, has never been provided by Metro."
And, the complaint states: "The medical records indicate that multiple Metro officers repeatedly confirmed to Sunrise Hospital that Tracey 'ran from police,' that he had led police on a 'foot chase,' and that officers were forced to 'tackle' Tracy. These claims by Metro officers are extremely curious given that Tracey Pope is a paraplegic. "The medical records confirm Tracey had a remote spinal injury years ago and has been a paraplegic for well over a decade. The medical records indicate 'pt. is paraplegi[c] from the remote spinal injury and presumed cord injury and it's unlikely the LE neurologic findings are new, or that the patient has the ability to be involved in a foot chase.'
"The medical doctors were very clear in their conclusion that the events as relayed by Metro regarding how Tracey suffered a blow to the head, and suffered head and neck injuries, and a cut to his face, are highly questionable. The medical records state 'Etiology of AMS is perplexing and compounded by the HPI (history of present illness) we received that seems to be improbable.'"
Pope says he "did not and could not run from the police, was not involved in any foot chase, and did not need to be 'tackled.'
He says he racked up $75,000 in medical bills from a week in the hospital and several weeks in a physical rehabilitation facility.
He seeks punitive damages for civil rights violations, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent training, battery and negligence.
He is represented by David F. Sampson.
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