Lawsuit claims LBPD broke arm of mentally incapacitated Black woman

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A Black woman is suing the City of Long Beach on behalf of her mentally incapacitated daughter, alleging her offspring suffered a broken left arm that required surgery after a confrontation with police at the plaintiff’s home.

Maquoyia Rodgers was 22 at the time of the June 18, 2019, incident, according to the Los Angeles Superior Court suit brought Wednesday by her mother, Marsha Coles, who is not herself a plaintiff. The suit alleges civil rights violations, negligence, battery and use of excessive force, and seeks unspecified damages.

The officers’ presence, coupled with the attempted removal of Rodgers from her home against her will, was a “militaristic, menacing and threatening response to an obviously mentally incapacitated woman who was exercising her right to remain in her home,” according to the suit, which alleges the police response to a call for assistance was “completely unreasonable and grossly mishandled from start to finish.”

Deputy City Attorney Howard D. Russell declined to comment on the suit.

Rodgers was known to some LBPD officers as a mentally disabled individual from prior domestic disturbances at her Long Beach home, according to the suit, which says she was under a physician’s care.

Coles attributed her daughter’s irrational behavior, in which she would yell and act aggressively, to her medications wearing off, but did not believe her to be a threat to anyone’s safety, the suit states.

The evening of the incident, a relative of Rodgers called police for assistance regarding alleged aggressive behavior exhibited by the plaintiff and two officers were dispatched to her home. Rodgers was surprised by the officers’ presence, but she cooperated and gave them the information they requested, the suit states.

Coles later arrived and told the officers her daughter’s behavior was due to a change in medication and that she would be all right if she went for a ride to calm down, but the officers insisted that Rodgers be detained and taken to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, the suit says.

Rodgers told the officers she did not want to go to the hospital, but the officers refused to leave and began an effort through the state Welfare and Institutions Code to remove her from her home on grounds she was a danger to herself or others, the suit states.

Rodgers was not a danger to herself or others and no mental health experts were summoned by police to assess her mental state, according to the suit.

“The situation called for de-escalation and there were multiple options available to the officers if they were in fact concerned for plaintiff’s well-being,” the suit states.

After being placed handcuffed in a police car, Rodgers was able to remove the restraints. One of the officers tried to restrain her again by yanking her left arm behind her back despite her resistance, injuring her limb in front of onlookers at the scene, the suit states.

Rodgers suffered a broken left arm and underwent surgery, the suit says.

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