COMMENTARY BY CRIMINAL DEFENSE and PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER SAM SPITAL:
“ABC Channel 10 News on November 27, 2012 posted online their account of a suspect who had been arrested in the evening hours during the past weekend for burglary of an automobile and escaped before being completely handcuffed and placed in the SDPD cruiser; and who the following morning came across a 71 year old woman he violently attacked and beat on her head with the handcuffs, one of which was still attached to his wrist. An onlooker standing nearby ran to the aid of the innocent and unsuspecting victim. The suspect ran off but was eventually caught by the Good Samaritan. No other facts were posted in regards to the original crime, and the article was devoid of any other information as to the underlying reason and/or motivation for the vicious attack. Hence, it is unclear if the suspect will be charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery, assault with intent to commit great bodily harm, elder abuse, etc.
This scenario also raises a serious question as to whether the police officer making the arrest took appropriate measures to prevent the escape of a suspect being taken into custody. Further, whether the police used adequate means in the following search of an offender, having reason to know he might be a serious danger to others. The SDPD is in the process of examining the facts and the procedures used in the within case. Clearly, a review of protocols is in order.
In addition, there is the exposure the police face in a civil lawsuit by the elderly woman whose life was placed in jeopardy as a result of possible police negligence. There are immunities that governmental entities have and, therefore, a personal injury lawyer who might be retained in such a case would have to examine all of the possibilities as well as to determine if any theory of liability exists under the facts that would provide an exception and allow for liability for the damages she sustained. The initial claim against the police would have to be filed within six months of the incident.”