Belleville police subject of $2 million rights violation suit

Steve Gonzalez Aug. 12, 2005, 5:46am

Belleville Police Department

Bryan Joseph Schmittling claims Belleville police officers violated his civil rights by ignoring his pleas for medical assistance after an auto accident Dec. 20, 2004, and then torturing him with a taser gun.

Seeking $2 million in damages, Schmittling filed suit against the city and three officers in U.S. District Court of Southern Illinois on Aug. 7.

According to the complaint, Schmittling suffered a fractured shoulder blade and traumatic injuries to his chest and stomach following a one-vehicle accident. His car went down an embankment and rolled over.

When officers arrived, Schmittling told them he needed an ambulance, but one of the officers ordered him to produce his driver's license, he claims. The suit also states the officer questioned whether Schmittling had been drinking.

“Within moments of the order, Schmittling used his injured left arm to hand his wallet containing his driver’s license, and again reported his injuries, and again requested emergency medical attention,” the complaint states. “Schmittling and his passenger were ordered to remain where they were standing.”

Schmittling claims an officer summoned an ambulance for his friend, but he was told he was going to jail.

"So, without resistance, he put his hands together in front of his waist to allow the police officer to place him in handcuffs," the complaint states.

Schmittling claims the officer called him a derogatory name then drew his taser gun and fired at him.

According to the complaint, Schmittling's muscles immediately and violently contracted and convulsed, including the muscles connected to his broken right shoulder, causing him to scream in pain.

While recovering from the first shock, he was ordered to lie on the ground, but due to his injuries he struggled to comply with the order and was tased again by the officer, Schmittling claims.

A similar confrontation occurred and Schmittling was tased a third time.

Schmittling claims an officer kneeled heavily on his back, and violently forced his right hand behind his back, again causing him to scream in pain and blackout for a moment.

When Schmittling pleaded for an ambulance, he was tased for a fourth time, he claims.

“Upon receiving the third or fourth shock from the taser, Schmittling's bowels spontaneously and involuntarily voided," the complaint states.

Schmittling claims as he was being put in the patrol car, the officer grabbed him by the neck and slammed his head into the roof of the car, causing even more injuries.

Once at the police station, Schmittling claims his repeated requests for medical attention were ignored, as well as his pleas to clean himself.

Schmittling also alleges that the officers conspired as they completed their separate police reports omitting facts and concealing the truth.

“Schmittling was the victim of unjust and unjustifiable punishment and torture administered in a sadistic manner that was grossly disproportionate to whatever Schmittling’s suspected offense may have been,” the complaint states.

Schmittling is represented by David Cody of Beck & Cody in St. Louis.

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