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TRI In The News

Arrest of Disabled Man Points to Need for Careful Police Work

Gordon Goines, 37, was told by his cable TV provider that someone was apparently logged into his service and he should report it to police on the basis of theft of cable services. Rutherford Institute founder John Whitehead tells OneNewsNow that Goines walked to a police station across from his home to report it. Goines has Lou Gehrig's Disease.

“He slurs his speech a bit and he walks with a bit of a strange gait,” Whitehead explains. “Two police officers actually followed him back across the street, but the first police officer reported him and said he thought he had mental issues. So what they did was they actually handcuffed the man and took him to a mental facility where he was strip-searched and then placed in a six-day mental evaluation." 

Doctors examined him and concluded Goines was above average intelligence and had no mental problems. Rutherford Institute filed suit. The lower court ruled police had no liability, but the Institute appealed that ruling.

“And the court actually ruled that the officers should have done a better job of checking this out,” Whitehead adds. “They should have actually listened to what the man was saying, but they didn't.

"So the case is now going to move forward and hopefully send a signal to police officers around the country, Hey, slow down, do a check. Don't immediately arrest everybody - which they do with people today.”

The attorney says if police had only checked with a couple of neighbors, they would have learned that they had someone in handcuffs who was suffering from Lou Gehrig's Disease.