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Federal judge allows lawsuit from paralyzed inmate to continue

The Marion County Sheriff's Office and Jail is shown in August 2019. (Photo Provided/Google Street View)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A federal judge will allow a lawsuit against four Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers and three Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputies to continue.

The lawsuit stems from an incident in September 2019, when Travis Shinneman was left paralyzed after he claims officers threw him into a Marion County Sheriff’s transport van.

According to court documents, Shinneman claims that four IMPD officers “violated his constitutional rights when they either failed to intervene or participated in throwing him headfirst into a Marion County Sheriff’s Office van while he was handcuffed, resulting in permanent paralysis.”

Court papers say that officers responded to a disturbance at a restaurant, and located Shinneman in the street yelling. Officers arrested him for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. Police then called for a transport van to take Shinneman to Marion County Jail.

When Shinneman resisted getting into the van, a deputy pushed Shinneman into the van on his stomach. Upon arrival at the Marion County Jail, Shinneman was unable to stand. He was taken to Eskenazi Hospital and “was diagnosed as a quadriplegic due to a broken neck.”

Doctors who examined Shinneman’s injury say that the type of injury Shinneman sustained, which was a dislocation to two vertebrae in his neck, could only be sustained if he was thrown with a force of at least 7 mph in such a way that his head hit an abrupt stop and the rest of his body compressed.

Shinneman also claims that the Indianapolis-Marion City-County Council policy requiring IMPD to transport detainees in the transport vans “despite lack of seatbelts in the vehicles was the moving force behind his injuries.”

The motion for a summary judgment, which is a judgment without a full trial, was granted for Shinneman’s claims against the City-County Council and Marion County Sheriff’s Office’s policy by a federal judge on Wednesday.

A motion of judgment for Shinneman’s claims against the IMPD and MSCO officers was denied.

A pretrial for the summary judgment was scheduled for May 25 and a jury trial was scheduled for June 20.