Lawsuit claims Oakley police broke man's arm

By Elizabeth Alt | May 5, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO – An Oakley resident is suing the city of Oakley and 25 law enforcement officers for allegedly intentionally breaking his arm during an arrest.

Michael Petersen states in his lawsuit that Oakley and the officers involved displayed conduct that “was willful, malicious, oppressive, knowing, and intentional," and that their actions “deprived plaintiff of his rights, privileges, and immunities secured by the United States Constitution.” Petersen is suiting for alleged violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment, Bane Act violation, negligence, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Petersen seeks a jury trial.

In April 2017, Petersen was approached in front of a market by two Oakley police officers who “decided to arrest him." The officers handcuffed Petersen with his hands behind his back and sat him on the ground. When an officer grew “impatient” after ordering Petersen to stand, the officers allegedly “yanked’ Petersen up off the ground by pulling his arm. Petersen states he immediately felt “searing and burning pain” in his arm and told the officers he believed his arm was broke. Petersen claims the officers acted with indifference and then “intentionally squeezed” the arm, causing more pain to Petersen. The officers eventually called for an ambulance and Petersen states at the hospital his arm was declared broken, and he later had to have surgery.

Petersen claims the officers used “unreasonable and excessive force” when they pulled him up by his handcuffs to the point that his arm broke, and that the officers intentionally grabbed his injured arm after being told it could be broken. Petersen claims the “defendant officers subjected plaintiff to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of his civil rights, thus constituting oppression.”

Petersen alleges he was unarmed, did not commit any crime, and was not a threat to any bystanders. Peterson states that the officers intentionally harmed him to prevent him from exercising “his right to be free from the unlawful use of excessive force upon his person” a violation of the Bane Act.

The complaint states that the police officers had “no objectively reasonable basis” for their “outrageous actions.” The lawsuit alleges there is an ongoing problem for the Oakley police department, stating, “the Oakley police department has had, maintained, and fostered a widespread or longstanding custom and practice of not…properly training staff in how to handle people who are handcuffed from behind so as not to cause these handcuffed individuals’ limbs to break.”

Petersen seeks punitive, exemplary and compensatory damages, as well as other costs. He is represented by Stanley Goff of the Law Office of Stanley Goff.

United States District Court Northern District of California, case number 3:18-cv-02448-LB

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