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Disabled Man Awarded $3.9M After Police Beating Incident

San Leandro, California — Sorrell Shiflett, a disabled man with a history of cognitive challenges, has been awarded $3.9 million following a brutal encounter with San Leandro police officers in October 2019. Shiflett, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2008, was searching for a friend’s home in San Leandro with his cousin when officers Ismael Navarro and Anthony Pantoja approached them, responding to a report of suspicious activity.

The lawsuit, settled in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, revealed that Navarro and Pantoja were aware of Shiflett’s disability but proceeded to confront him aggressively. Despite Shiflett’s attempts to explain his condition and seek assistance from his father, the officers used batons and tasers against him, leading to severe injuries including brain hemorrhage and multiple strokes.

Shiflett’s attorney, highlighted the officers’ disregard for Shiflett’s condition, alleging that Navarro destroyed evidence and Pantoja failed to activate his body camera until after the incident. Shiflett, who was not charged with any crime, was later found to have aggravated his brain injury during the altercation.

The settlement, totaling $3.9 million, was reached without admission of liability by the city of San Leandro or its police officers. While Pantoja no longer serves with the department, Navarro remains on duty. San Leandro officials confirmed the resolution of the lawsuit and emphasized changes in body-worn camera policies following the incident.

This case underscores the importance of understanding and addressing disabilities in law enforcement encounters,” stated attorney Ty Clarke, also representing Shiflett. The incident, which drew attention to police conduct and treatment of disabled individuals, occurred approximately 25 miles east of San Francisco.

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