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Man sues Whitley County jail, says he was physically assaulted

From The Times Tribune -

Graphic by KY3

After spending a night in the Whitley County Detention Center last year, a Williamsburg man has filed a lawsuit against the detention center, the Whitley County Fiscal Court, Jailer Brian Lawson, and Deputy Jailer Austin Philpot.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in London by J. Robert Cowan of Cowan Law Office, the document claims Gary W. Paul, 54, was physically assaulted, maced, and denied medical attention by detention center staff in February 2020.

Paul, who was pulled over the evening of February 1, 2020 by the Williamsburg Police Department, was charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, careless driving, not having an operator's license, and speeding.

Once lodged in the detention center, Paul says he was seated in the intake area and that he requested to make a phone call because he had to take a dose of prescribed medication that evening.

The lawsuit states an unknown deputy jailer denied Paul’s request “in a hostile and antagonizing manner.” Paul then stood up in response, at which time the deputy jailer placed his hands on Paul to retain him from moving.

The lawsuit goes on to say that a second deputy jailer, identified as Austin Philpot, rushed over to intervene and sprayed Paul with mace.

“After being sprayed with mace, [Paul] was slammed and/or thrown to the ground face-first by deputy jailer Austin Philpot and/or by unknown deputy jailers,” reads the lawsuit.

“After being slammed on the ground, [Paul] was beaten and struck multiple times on the head, face, ribs, knees, ankles, and other areas,” it continues, adding that because of the mace, Paul was unable to discern whether the strikes came from punches, kicks, or a nightstick.

Paul then claims he was held in a chokehold or vascular restraint, thereby causing immediate and permanent injury, and that he was handcuffed. He claims he had his feet hobbled as well.

“None of the force used against [Paul] was reasonable or necessary as he never threatened jail staff or posed any physical threat to jail staff, and the same was therefore in violation of applicable policies and laws,” reads the lawsuit.

The lawsuit goes on to say that Paul was then placed in a shower room where the handcuffs were removed and he was permitted to wash away the blood and mace.

After cleaning himself up, Paul says he requested medical attention. The lawsuit states he was told there was no medical care available that evening. It also adds that he was unable to take his scheduled dose of medication that evening.

“The denial of medical attention for [Paul] when requested was a violation of applicable policies and laws,” states the document.

The lawsuit goes on to say that the detention center did not have an appropriate use force policy in place and that none of the defendants made any written report regarding the use of a chemical agent or any physical force during the incident with Paul.

According to the lawsuit, Deputy Jailer Philpot was terminated on March 24, 2020 after being cited the previous week for violating polices that prohibited employees from employing unnecessary force, subjecting inmates to unwarranted physical abuse, and bringing in a weapon declared contraband into the jail.

It goes on to read that Philpot was later rehired and resumed his employment on May 29, 2020.

The lawsuit ends with Paul requesting for a trial by jury, and for the judgement against the defendants for past and continuing physical and emotional pain and suffering, medical expenses, humiliation, embarrassment, emotional distress, compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney fees, and interest.

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