Inmate Claims Jail Officer Broke His Shoulder; Judge Recommends Dismissal
The Fayetteville man convicted in 2012 of shooting a police officer during a standoff claims a jail officer broke his shoulder while using excessive force. A federal judge in Fayetteville, though, recommends the case be dismissed.
Sergio Andrade-Martinez filed a lawsuit in federal court in 2012 against Major Randall Denzer and a man only identified as “Officer Fields” in the report. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office online staff list shows the detention center employs an officer named Chris Fields.
Andrade-Martinez claims while being held in jail awaiting trial, Fields grabbed the inmate, threw him on the floor and forced his arms behind his back while another officer put his foot on the inmate’s head, according to the lawsuit.
Andrade-Martinez said the situation started after he was moved from a private cell to general population at the detention center. He was looking for help and for a lawyer, but only spoke Spanish. The inmate twice pushed a call button in the jail to ask for help, but he was unable to communicate with the detention officer responding to the call, the lawsuit states.
After the inmate pressed the button a second time, Andrade-Martinez said Fields grabbed him and threw him on the floor, fracturing Andrade-Martinez’s shoulder while moving his arms back in an attempt to handcuff him, the suit states. A jail nurse later examined Andrade-Martinez and determined “there was nothing wrong and that he was just pretending,” according to the lawsuit.
The inmate later saw a doctor at Washington Regional Medical Center and received x-rays, which showed a dislocated shoulder. Doctors later determined he fractured his shoulder and suffered head contusions, in addition to other injuries, the lawsuit states.
Andrade-Martinez said Denzer knew of Fields’ propensity for excessive force and did nothing about it.
Fields and Denzer sought summary judgment in the case, and federal Magistrate Erin Setser granted the motion, saying “no genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether Officer Fields responded reasonably” and that the detention officer may be cleared by qualified immunity, “a defense available to government officials who can prove that their conduct did not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights…,” according to Setser’s recommendation, handed down in federal court in Fayetteville.
With Setser’s recommendation, Andrade-Martinez and his attorney have 14 days to file a written objection to the magistrate’s findings.
Andrade-Martinez, 52, was sentenced in December 2012 to 149 years in prison. A jury recommended 271 years of prison time Dec. 5, the same day it convicted Sergio Andrade-Martinez on eight charges of attempted capital murder.
The jury made no suggestions whether Andrade-Martinez should serve his time consecutively or concurrently.
Andrade-Martinez addressed the judge at the time, asking to be spared from spending the rest of his life in prison.
“I had death threats, and that’s why I acted crazy and all of these things came about,” Andrade-Martinez said through an interpreter. “I am asking with all of the love of God to please consider these things. One more opportunity — that’s all I am asking.”
Washington County Prosecutor John Threet said the violent nature of Andrade-Martinez’s crimes justifies a lifetime prison sentence.
“He will die in prison,” Threet said.
The jury had recommended Andrade-Martinez receive a 27-year sentence for each of his eight attempted capital murder convictions. The defendant was also found guilty of two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of felony possession of a firearm and one count each of possession of a controlled substance and simultaneous possession of a firearm and cocaine.
The formal sentencing had been set for Dec. 10 but was rescheduled because an interpreter was unavailable, a court official said.
Andrade-Martinez declined to testify at his trial, which started Dec.3. Attorneys presented closing arguments Dec. 5, with the case going to the jury at about 11:15 a.m. The court announced a verdict at about 4:30 p.m.
Witness testimonials dominated the first two days of the trial inside the courtroom in the case of a Fayetteville man accused of shooting an officer in the leg during a police standoff in March.
Officer Blake Williamson, the officer shot in the ankle, took the witness stand Tuesday morning, saying he and two other officers were taking cover behind a red pickup truck when he felt a sharp pain in his right ankle and realized he had been shot.
After surgery, Williamson returned to work in June but Tuesday said his ankle is still not back to normal and is very painful at certain angles.
Officer Sid Ramirez, was called on to speak to Andrade-Martinez on the phone in Spanish during the standoff.
Ramirez said he was able to get Andrade-Martinez to come out of his apartment and before another officer came in, used a Taser on him and took him into custody.
Defense Attorney Scott Parks asked the circuit court judge to reduce the charges on all eight counts of attempted capital murder, as well as the counts of aggravated assault and committing terroristic acts.
Storey denied Parks’ requests.
The defense did not call any witnesses to the stand.