Paraplegic TippingPosted: February 18, 2008
A new extreme sport is gripping America;
A Florida prison officer who dumped a paraplegic man out of his wheelchair in order to search him could be jailed after being charged with abuse of a disabled person.
Surveillance video footage showing the behaviour of Charlette Marshall-Jones, a sheriff’s deputy at the Hillsborough county detention centre in Tampa, caused national outrage when it was picked up by the news channels and posted on YouTube.
After repeatedly having asked Brian Sterner, 32, who has been paralysed from the waist down since a wrestling accident 13 years ago, to stand up to be searched, Deputy Marshall-Jones is shown tipping him on to the floor as if unloading a wheelbarrow. Other officers look on and one walks away smiling, as Mr Sterner is searched while still lying on the floor. Four officers, including Ms Marshall-Jones, have been suspended while the incident is investigated, and the deputy faces five years in jail if convicted of abuse. She was bailed at the weekend.
Mr Sterner, who drives a car fitted with hand pedals, had been arrested for a traffic offence. In a national television appearance, he said: “Hopefully, that’s what will come out of this, that this negative way of dealing with life and people will change.”
So far the first major event, broadcast primetime, has resulted in a 4 – 0 victory for the able-bodied. American wheelchair manufacturers are salivating as the demand for wheelchairs has skyrocketed in the last few days. Detractors are claiming that this new sport is little more than abuse, but their criticisms are being met with calls to “Shut the fuck up or we will kill you!”.