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Paraplegic Man Allegedly Roughed Up By Police

WSMV | October 3 2006

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- A paraplegic man in Rutherford County was allegedly roughed up Thursday night by police who thought they were dealing with an uncooperative drunk driver.

The misunderstanding happened when police removed the Harvey Watson from his vehicle and thought that he was resisting arrest when they dragged him across the road.

Watson is diabetic and a paraplegic.

Watson’s wife LeAnn Watson called 911 earlier to notify police that something had gone wrong with her husband.

She said she gave the dispatcher a description of the vehicle and his approximate location.

Soon after LeAnn Watson called 911, Chad Rutledge, the driver of the vehicle following Harvey Watson, said he called 911 to report a possible drunk driver.

“He was going from one lane to the other lane. He was going up hills on the wrong side. He was coming off in the ditch and coming back on,” Rutledge said.

A Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department incident report shows that officers tried to stop Harvey Watson’s vehicle but for medical reasons unknown to police at the time, he was disoriented.

“When they told me to exit the vehicle I stuck both arms out the window and told them ‘I cannot exit,’” Harvey Watson said.

“When you take a man out, even if he is drunk, his legs are going to try to hold his weight, his (Harvey) didn’t hold anything,” LeAnn Watson said.

Harvey Watson said it wasn’t until officers had dragged him by his knees, roughed him up and handcuffed him that things became clearer for them.

LeAnn Watson said the handicapped license plate, his hand controls for the vehicle and the wheelchair should have clued them in, along with several calls to 911 she made before the stop.

“They should have thought, ‘Hey. We might have a medical issue here,’” LeAnn Watson said.

Based on the incident report, a spokesman with the sheriff’s report said officers followed procedure.

The statement issued by Dan Goodwin of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department said: “The original complainants, who witnessed the entire event, have given statements indicating our officers did nothing wrong.”

Harvey Watson disagreed.

“It shouldn’t have happened,” he said.

The incident is now under review and the Watsons are being advised by an attorney.


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