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Monday, June 17, 2024 | Back issues
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War Vet Says Police Ruptured His Spleen

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Oakland police beat a war veteran so badly they ruptured his spleen, then sent him to a jail where "medical personnel mocked and ignored his pleas for help," the man claims in court.

Kayvan Sabeghi sued Oakland and three police officers - Marcell Patterson, Sgt. Patrick Gonzalez, and Frank (last name unknown) - in Federal Court.

Sabeghi claims the police beat him as he walked home alone after participating in an Occupy Oakland protest.

"These wrongs occurred in the wee hour of Nov. 3, 2011, during political demonstrations initiated by the Occupy Oakland movement," the complaint states. "Mr. Sabeghi had participated in the protect activity, gone out to dinner and was making his way home when he encountered a police line blocking his path. When Mr. Sabeghi, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, questioned and verbally criticized the officers' actions, defendant Officer Frank Uu and other Oakland Police officers brutally beat and arrested him in retaliation for his exercise of his First Amendment rights.

"Officer Uu and other officers beat plaintiff so viciously that they ruptured his splenic vein, causing severe pain and internal bleeding. Rather than summoning medical attention or taking plaintiff to the hospital, the Oakland Police officers proceeded to detain him at various locations near City Hall for some hours, and then transferred him to the Alameda County Jail, in further unlawful punishment for his First Amendment expression. Police officers, jailers and jail medical personnel mocked and ignored his pleas for help. Plaintiff was not taken to a hospital until approximately 18 hours after the beating. He had been bleeding internally the entire time and was in dire condition necessitating immediate emergency surgery."

Sabeghi says the officers confronted him after her stopped at a newsstand near his home.

"Plaintiff asked to be allowed to pass, but the officers refused. Plaintiff was upset by this arbitrariness and began verbally arguing with the officers and criticizing the police. The police line began to move slowly forward ... and two Doe officers jabbed plaintiff repeatedly with wooden clubs. Plaintiff retreated backward at a pace with the police. At no time did plaintiff present a physical threat to the police.

"Suddenly, defendant Uu came through the police line and confronted plaintiff, cursing at him, and then struck him repeatedly with a club, driving him towards the west sidewalk in front of the police line. Although plaintiff did not resist or fight back and was not physically aggressive in any way, defendants Uu, Patterson, and other officers tackled him at or near the curb with unnecessary and excessive force, piling on top of him and violently twisting his arms. Plaintiff suffered internal injuries as well as cuts and bruises. There was no justification for the use of force on plaintiff. Defendant Sgt. Gonzalez and other superiors failed to adequately supervise Officer Uu and other officers, failed to intervene, and approved and condoned the officers' unlawful conduct against plaintiff."

Sabeghi says he was put in a police van alone after the beating, then forced to sit on a curb with other handcuffed prisoners.

He says police refused to wash a "chemical agent" from his face, to loosen "his painfully tight handcuffs," or provide medical attention.

"Eventually, defendants caused plaintiff to be put on a sheriff's bus and taken to the Alameda County Jail, in violation of their California statutory obligation to cite and release a misdemeanor arrestee such as plaintiff and in retaliation for plaintiff's exercise of his First Amendment rights. Defendants failed to communicate plaintiff's need for medical attention to the Alameda County personnel," the complaint states.

"Plaintiff had been bleeding internally this entire time and once at the jail, he began to experience severe pain and to vomit repeatedly. The sheriff's personnel and medical personnel at the jail ignored plaintiff's requests for help even though he was vomiting and unable to stand. Rather than providing medical attention, the jail and medical personnel ridiculed plaintiff, accusing him of being a heroin addict. Plaintiff was confined under unreasonably unsanitary conditions, and moved from holding cell to holding cell, each one filthy and stinking, as he continued to bleed internally. Even after a friend paid his bail, he was not released for several more hours. Finally, an ambulance was brought and he was taken to Alameda County Highland Hospital, some 18 hours or more after he was beaten by defendants. At the hospital, plaintiff received emergency surgery to repair a ruptured blood vessel in his abdomen, caused by the police beating. He remained in the hospital for five days."

Sabeghi says he suffered pain and disability for eight months after the beating. He lost earnings and was unable to participate in "many of his customary exercise and leisure activities."

He seeks punitive damages for constitutional violations, assault and battery and false imprisonment.

He is represented by Dennis Cunningham.

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