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Shot in the Back for a Misunderstanding

NASHVILLE (CN) - Unable to speak Spanish, a police officer shot a man repeatedly in the back at point-blank range after the man asked the officer if he could be of any help, the now wheelchair-bound man claims in Federal Court.

Jose Calderon Pacheco sued the City of Springfield and its Police Department, Police Chief Mike Wilhoit and Officer Will Johnson, who allegedly shot him repeatedly in what appears to have been a simple misunderstanding.

Calderon, who speaks little or no English, says he got out of his truck sometime before midnight a year ago today after seeing a police car pull in behind him. "Upon noticing the police car, plaintiff exited his vehicle and inquired of the officer if he could be of any assistance," according to the complaint.

Calderon, now 32, says he "could not understand and/or respond to" Officer Johnson because his native language is Spanish.

"Johnson then proceeded to attempt to place plaintiff under arrest and to do a 'pat down' of him," according to the complaint.

It continues: "Plaintiff tried to inquire of the officer as to why he was being arrested and to state that he had done nothing wrong. Nonetheless, Johnson continued with a forceful arrest. Becoming fearful, plaintiff attempted to run away. He was pursued by Johnson, who physically accosted him, picking him up by the neck. Subsequently, he discharged pepper spray in the plaintiff's face.

"Defendant Johnson then pulled his baton from its holster and began striking the plaintiff in numerous places on his body."

Another police car arrived, with "one or more SPD officers."

Calderon says "he ran towards his back yard to escape further injury from defendant Johnson," who continued beating him with the police stick.

"The officer then pulled his pistol form its holster, aimed at the plaintiff and commanded him to lift his arms.

"Plaintiff complied, lifting his arms as instructed, yet defendant Johnson opened fire and shot the plaintiff directly in the right hand. The force of the bullet to the right hand spun the plaintiff around so that he landed on the ground face down.

"Plaintiff, wounded in the right hand from the gunshot, was on his stomach on the ground, bleeding from his right hand, in a submissive position.

"Within a few seconds, defendant Johnson then proceeded to shoot the plaintiff multiple times in the back at point blank range."

Calderon says that "None of the other defendant officers, John Does 1-5 attempted to render any first aid to plaintiff. Eventually, the Emergency Medical Service was contacted."

Calderon, who says he will be wheelchair-bound for life, claims Johnson's assault was "committed maliciously and sadistically."

He also accuses the Springfield Police Department of being "deliberately indifferent in the training of employees in regard to the ... management of non-English speaking individuals."

He seeks punitive damages for reckless violations of his civil rights.

He is represented by Richard Summers of Atlanta, Ga.

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