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An Alabama Man Is Suing A Deputy Because He Says Tight Handcuffs Led To An Amputation

An Alabama man says a Jefferson County, Ala., sheriff's deputy cuffed him too tightly, causing the amputation of his left hand 10 months later. He is suing for damages. This photo shows a handcuffed protester in Berlin earlier this month.
An Alabama man says a Jefferson County, Ala., sheriff's deputy cuffed him too tightly, causing the amputation of his left hand 10 months later. He is suing for damages. This photo shows a handcuffed protester in Berlin earlier this month.

An Alabama man is suing a Jefferson County sheriff's deputy for excessive force and civil rights violations, alleging that handcuffs he says were secured too tightly resulted in the amputation of his left hand.

On Feb. 16, 2020, Giovanni Loyola was at his mother's house in Pinson, Ala., when three Jefferson County sheriff's deputies knocked at the door, according to the complaint. They were responding to multiple calls of two men fighting and handling large weapons. The lawsuit says a "Deputy Godber" grabbed Loyola by the wrist and forcefully removed him from the house moments after Loyola answered the door.

The lawsuit does not provide the deputy's first name. NPR's phone calls to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office went unanswered.

The deputy then allegedly pulled the then 25-year-old man down the steps and "slammed" Loyola against a car before throwing him to the ground and then punching him in the face, the lawsuit says. The deputy then secured Loyola's hands behind his back with handcuffs that were "unbearably tight." About 10 months later Loyola's left hand was amputated.

At the time of the incident Loyola complained that the handcuffs were too tight and that he was losing feeling in his left hand, the lawsuit alleges. He pleaded with the officer to loosen them, but Godber ignored him.

"The handcuffs remained tightly on Plaintiff's wrists until they were removed hours later at the jail," the amended complaint read. "After Plaintiff got out of jail on February 28, 2020, his left wrist was still in tremendous pain."

After his release from jail, Loyola went to Christ Health Center to have his left hand checked, according to the complaint. The physician said there was a severe blood flow problem and surgery was required. He was then admitted to Ascension St. Vincent's East hospital in Birmingham. When he arrived, Loyola's fingertips were grey and notes from the emergency department said there was "concern for necrosis."

Loyola was in and out of the hospital over the next 10 months, which ultimately resulted in the amputation of his left hand, according to the lawsuit. The law firm representing Loyola — Wiggins, Childs, Pantazis, Fisher and Goldfarb of Birmingham — filed the initial complaint on April 27, and an amended complaint the following day. Godber was served with the lawsuit May 3, and has until May 24 to respond, court documents said.

"Deputy Godber handcuffed Plaintiff's wrists so tightly that Plaintiff immediately lost sensation in one hand, and Deputy Godber refused to loosen the handcuffs even after Plaintiff told him that they were too tight and were causing him pain. These actions and inactions constituted unreasonable and excessive force," Loyola's attorneys argued. "As a result of Deputy Godber's actions, Plaintiff suffered injuries including deprivation of liberty, physical injuries including the loss of his hand, pain and suffering and emotional distress, and lost future earning potential."

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