$160,000 Settlement Plus New Written Procedures After Sheriff's Deputies Tase and Beat Severely Disabled Young Woman

Alameda County sheriff's deputies were at a facility for the care of people with developmental disabilities and mental illness when those deputies intervened in a situation where trained staff were calming down a young woman in crises. The young woman has the mental capacity of a four year old child. The deputies pushed aside staff, and Tased and beat the young woman into submission. Then despite learning what was going on, they arrested and took her to jail. The young woman was released after three days and all charges aginst her were dismissed. Haddad & Sherwin sued the deputies and the Sheriff's Department for civil rights violations. Alameda County eventually agreed to settle the case, paying $160,000 into a trust fund for the young woman, paying her legal fees separately, and agreeing to new written procedures for when deputies may be called to that facility again.

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Related Headlines
  • $160K for stun gunning at mental center
    Henry K. Lee, San Francisco Chronicle, December 19, 2012

    Alameda County has agreed to pay $160,000 to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by an 18 year old developmentally disabled woman who accused sheriff's deputies of using excessive force when they tackled her and shocked her with a stun gun at a Castro Valley mental health center. The victim, Sapreena Fowler, has the mental capacity of a 4 year old. The settlement money will be placed in a special trust for Fowler, said her attorney Julia Sherwin. As part of the settlement, the sheriff's office has amended its protocol for deputies responding to the center, reminding them to speak quietly to those who are mentally ill or developmentally disabled and to "give them time to calm down," Sherwin said. "Deputies Robson and Johnson ignored their training and abused this vulnerable young woman when she most needed help," Sherwin said.

  • Disabled woman's lawsuit alleges excessive force
    Henry K. Lee, San Francisco Chronicle, September 17, 2011

    An 18-year-old developmentally disabled woman filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Friday against the Alameda County sheriff's office, saying deputies used excessive force when they tackled her and shocked her with a stun gun at a Castro Valley mental health center. Sapreena Fowler, who has the mental capacity of a 4-year-old, was forcibly restrained during a confrontation Feb. 8 at Redwood Place, an inpatient mental health rehabilitation center at 18949 Redwood Road, said the suit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Fowler, an Oakland resident, spent two nights at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin and was charged with resisting an officer and battery against a law-enforcement officer. The charges were eventually dropped. "In over 20 years of prosecuting civil rights cases against police, this is one of the most shocking abuses of a vulnerable person I have seen," said Fowler's attorney, Michael Haddad.