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First step towards a lawsuit: Attorney for Kenosha inmate paralyzed during cell extraction files “notice of injury”

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KENOSHA COUNTY (WITI) — Jonathan Safran, the attorney for Sean Bialas — a man who was paralyzed while in custody at the Kenosha County Detention Center has taken the first step toward a lawsuit in this case.

Sean Bialas

Sean Bialas

The incident occurred on November 7th, 2014 and was caught on surveillance video.

That surveillance video shows a tactical unit bust into a cell to remove Bialas after authorities say he threatened to harm himself and refused to sit in a restraint chair or put on a restraint vest.

The cell extraction left Bialas paralyzed from his shoulders down.

“The fact that my client suffered such a significant injury, fractured a cervical vertebrae in his neck, with the force that would’ve been needed to do that, raises concern as to how this extraction was done,” Safran said.

Racine County investigators reviewed the case and determined the officers did nothing wrong. A report by investigators concluded ‘there is no basis to believe that excessive force was utilized.’

Following the ruling, Safran said he asked the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office to review the case.

“I then received a letter from their office indicating nothing had been referred to them and that it didn’t seem as though they were going to do anything. In that type of case, one would expect and I think citizens expect and would want their district attorney to then review that case just by the mere fact law enforcement would be involved,” Safran said.

On Thursday, March 5th, Safran announced the Kenosha County Clerk’s Office and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office were served with a “notice of injury.” This is the precursor to a lawsuit.

That “notice of injury” says during the cell extraction, “direct supervision officers and supervisors stood by and watched without intervening to stop or prevent the injuries in an inappropriate, unwarranted and unconstitutional manner.”

It goes on to say that following the extraction, Bialas was “carried upside down, although stating multiple times that he ‘felt paralyzed’ and ‘could not feel anything.’ Once secured into a restraint chair, the notice of injury says “his body was allowed to flip forward and backward — again while his body and injured spine were unsupported…direct supervision officers and supervisors took no precaution to prevent further injury.”

The notice of injury says Bialas nearly died that night because “direct supervision officers and supervisors did not obtain immediate emergency medical care for him.” He nearly died when his blood pressure fell into the 20s which required hospital personnel to “code” him, the notice says.

Bialas had to undergo surgery at the hospital.

The notice states Bialas’ permanent quadriplegia has required hospitalizations, rehabilitation and ongoing treatment — and Bialas has suffered fear, anxiety, depression, flashbacks and nightmares.

The notice blames Kenosha County Detention Center personnel for what happened to Bialas — for using “negligent and intentionally inappropriate, unwarranted, excessive, improper and unconstitutional physical force.”

Kenosha County and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department have failed to adequately train and supervise Kenosha County Detention Center personnel “allowing a Kenosha County Detention Center atmosphere that promotes cavalier attitudes in conduct, and leading to a belief that officers’ actions won’t be scrutinized or prosecuted,” the notice says.

READ IT: Notice of injury served to Kenosha County Clerk's Office, Kenosha County Sheriff's Department

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