Nationwide — As ruled by a U.S. District Court judge, two LAPD officers and the City of Los Angeles are set to face trial early next year over the false arrest, sexual abuse, and forced hospitalization of US Army veteran Slade Douglas.
Judge Maame Ewusi-Mensah Frimpong rejected an appeal from LAPD lawyers last month to dismiss the case, ruling that Officers Jeremy Wheeler and Jeffrey Yabana are not entitled to qualified immunity for unconstitutional detention, excessive force, retaliation, violation of due process, violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, violation of the Bane Act, battery, false arrest, and imprisonment, as well as negligence and that the City is vicariously liable for the officer’s actions during the illegal arrest of Douglas.
Wheeler told Douglas, ‘The worst thing Douglas could do was make a 911 call right in front of the officers,’ and he also stated, ‘What Douglas did was against the law.’ Judge Ewusi-Mensah Frimpong states, ‘It is also undisputed that Wheeler stated multiple times that the detention was due to the engagement in the protected activity.’ Additionally, she states, ‘A jury could find that Douglas was detained for engaging in constitutionally protected activity.’ Judge Frimpong concludes, ‘No reasonable officer could believe that there was probable cause for the detention.”
The case stems from a 2019 incident in which officers falsely arrested veterans advocate Slade Douglas, 46, inside his LA home after reportedly receiving a call for a wellness check.
Upon arriving and entering Douglas’s home with his consent, records show that Douglas refuted the unwarranted retaliatory welfare check, which was based on the malicious, false suicidal allegations against him by the Veterans Affairs (Veteran’s Crisis Line).
Body camera footage, once sealed under a protective order, has now exposed LAPD officers’ unauthorized searches and their unlawful seizure of Douglas, employing threats and force.
Following the false arrest, Douglas sat in the patrol car, handcuffed, for nearly half an hour, complaining about his pain. Officers could be heard laughing and making jokes about Douglas’s statements regarding his disability and dismissing his requests for reasonable accommodation.
The video also captures a paramedic advising the officers: “Take him to the hospital… you need to clear him. That way, it takes all the liability off you guys, takes it off the city.” Next, Douglas was double-cuffed, placed on a gurney, and illegally taken and carried away by ambulance to Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, California.
According to Douglas’s sworn deposition, “he stated that officers told the nurse, ‘Ricky,’ they needed to find something in Douglas’s system to justify his arrest. Ricky agreed to do this and then injected Douglas without his consent.”
At the hospital, records indicate that Douglas was forcibly injected multiple times while still double-cuffed to a gurney. Then, while unconscious from the drugging, he was placed in leather restraints, spread eagle by his arms and ankles in what was described as a torture chamber apparatus. He was subjected to invasive procedures during which his genitals were both touched and grasped, a foreign object (catheter) was forcibly inserted into his penis, and he was threatened with the administration of additional drugs by injection with the intent of extracting information. This reported abuse persisted for over eight hours.
Judge Frimpong, in her ruling’s ‘Findings of Fact’ section, declared: “Upon arriving at the hospital, Wheeler spoke with medical staff, and Douglas received treatment without his consent.”
At the hospital, records confirm that Douglas was subjected to Assault with a Deadly Weapon (Penal Code § 245(a)(1)), sexual battery (Penal Code § 243.4(a)), assault (Penal Code § 240), battery (Penal Code § 242), and false imprisonment (Penal Code §§ 236-237).
The actions of the officers and medical staff are alleged to have violated federal statutes concerning conspiracies against rights (18 U.S.C. § 241), abuses under color of law (18 U.S.C. § 242), and federally protected activities (18 U.S.C. § 245).
Judge Frimpong also stated, “The purpose of a welfare check is for the benefit of the individual at issue, not because they are under suspicion of any crime.”
“The defendants concede that Douglas was engaged in protected speech when he contacted 911 in their presence, deeming it unconstitutional to evoke probable cause to take someone into custody under WIC 5150. The Court notes that these Officers were apparently aware of this legal standard, further undermining their request for qualified immunity,” the judge wrote.
Douglas is represented by nationally renowned civil rights attorney Peter Carr, founder of PLC Law Group, along with prominent civil rights lawyers Lauren McRae and Na’Shaun Neal. A March 25, 2024 trial date has been set.
Here are the links to several video clips of the incident:
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