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$550,000 Settlement for Detainee Rendered Quadriplegic by Guard’s Excessive Force

The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee agreed to pay $550,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging a guard at the Davidson County Male Correctional Development Center (CDC) used excessive force on a pretrial detainee, leaving him a quadriplegic.

Edgar Mhoon was arrested in April 2015 following a search of his apartment. While at the CDC on August 8, 2015, he was having a discussion with a cellmate when he asked guard Patrick Vongsamphanh to change the television channel. Vongsamphanh objected to Mhoon’s comments and escalated the situation until he tried to grab Mhoon to take him to a holding cell.

Mhoon backed away, asked to see the lieutenant on duty and sat in a chair. Vongsamphanh then signaled a “code red” and yanked Mhoon out of the chair, twisting his arm behind his back. While attempting a double leg takedown, Vongsamphanh leveraged Mhoon’s body weight, picked him up and slammed him head-first onto the floor.
That rendered Mhoon temporarily unconscious; he was heard moaning, and said he could not move his extremities. Nonetheless, Vongsamphanh kneed Mhoon in the back and handcuffed him. Other guards arrived, dragged Mhoon to a wall and pinned him against it after efforts to make him stand up failed.

A nurse was summoned, who ordered that Mhoon be taken to a hospital. Rather than call an ambulance, he was dragged into a squad car, transported to a hospital and then dragged from the car upon arrival. No neck or back restraints were used. Hospital staff recognized the serious nature of Mhoon’s injuries; he was immobilized and sent to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he underwent an emergency laminectomy and spinal fusion.

Mhoon continues to suffer “paralysis, chronic neck pain, severe spasticity, insomnia, and tingling in both upper extremities.” He also has undergone above-the-knee amputations of both his legs, although it was unclear if that was related to the injuries he sustained at the jail.

“Edgar is unable to brush his own teeth, dress himself or use the bathroom himself,” said one of his attorneys, Nina Parsley. “He cannot perform living activities that you and I take for granted.”

The Metro Government approved the $550,000 settlement on May 19, 2018. Mhoon was also represented by attorneys Marshall H. McClarnon III and David L. Cooper. See: Mhoon v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, U.S.D.C. (M.D. Tenn.), Case No. 3:16-cv-01751. 


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Related legal case

Mhoon v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County