A Jefferson County sheriff's deputy—identified only by the last name Godber—in Alabama is being sued after a local man had to have his hand amputated. The suit claims a sheriff's deputy painfully handcuffed him for hours after the man repeatedly requested the cuffs be loosened, causing irreparable injury to his hand.
26-year-old Giovanni Loyola says the sheriff's office violated his civil rights and caused excessive injuries to his person when he was arrested on February 16, 2020.
He's now suing the deputy for damages.
On the evening of the arrest, Loyola was in his mother's trailer watching television.
According to Deputy Godber's report, the authorities were dispatched to the trailer park after receiving reports of gunshots and two men fighting. Loyola says there was no fighting, but his brothers may have argued outside of his mother's trailer.
The differences between the official report and the way the lawsuit outlines events is noticeable.
According to the deputy's report, Loyola intoxicated and arguing with family members. He fought with deputies and resisted arrest.
Loyola's lawsuit paints a different picture after he answered the door.
According to the suit:
"Deputy Godber, without answering and without asking permission to enter the home, reached inside the doorway, grabbed Plaintiff by the wrist and jerked him outside the home and down the steps."
The filing in federal court continues saying the deputy threw Loyola on the ground, punched him in the face and pinned him with his knee while placing the handcuffs on his wrists.
After being arrested, Loyola repeatedly pleaded for his handcuffs to be adjusted, but his requests were ignored.
This is what Loyola claims led to his left hand being amputated.
The plaintiff was held in jail for disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace and resisting arrest. Once arrested, he also served time for outstanding traffic warrants.
According to Loyola's lawsuit, he was denied medical treatment while in jail, despite the darkening of his fingers. The first thing he did once he got out was see a doctor about his hand.
At the hospital, Loyola was told he would need an operation, due to severe problems with blood flow in his hand.
Over the next ten months, Loyola would undergo four surgeries on his hand that ended in complete amputation.
The lawsuit also claims deputies searched his home without a warrant or exigent circumstance. Due to everything involved in his arrest and losing a hand, Loyola is suing for compensatory damages related to the physical and mental toll, the loss of income from not being able to work without his hand, medical costs, legal fees, and punitive damages.
The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office has yet to speak publicly on the lawsuit.
Police trainers and advocates say it's very rare for handcuffs to cause serious injury. Officers are trained to leave enough space for their pinky to fit between the cuff and the wrist.
However, they do admit it's possible for injuries to happen, depending on how tight the cuff is applied, how long the subject is cuffed and possibly even underlying health issues like diabetes or heart failure which can affect circulation.
Thor Eells of the National Tactical Officers Association told The Washington Postforgetting to double lock the cuff—to prevent it from getting smaller on its own—goes against proper procedure.
But it does happen:
"Is it supposed to happen? No. But, 'It happens' is the honest answer."
Time will tell whether such an issue was at play in Loyola's case.