A western Pennsylvania man who claims he sustained serious injuries after
being run over by a vehicle while he was handcuffed and lying in the roadway following a police encounter has filed a civil complaint against two Washington, Pa. police officers, as well as the city’s police department and district attorney’s office.
Jerry L. Ray, who resides in Pittsburgh, filed suit last week against Officers Michael Cain and James Markley, the Washington City Police Department and the Washington City District Attorney’s Office over an early morning incident exactly two years ago that ended with Ray having to be transported by air to a Pittsburgh hospital for treatment of severe head and other injuries.
In the early morning hours of Oct. 16, 2011, Ray was stopped by the two officers in the area of East Chestnut Street and Jefferson Avenue in the City of Washington, allegedly because the plaintiff was intoxicated in public, according to the complaint.
The officers proceeded to handcuff Ray and lay him down in the middle of Jefferson Avenue, what the suit calls a busy thoroughfare, while the officers conducted their investigation.
Cain and Markley acted with a “willful disregard for the foreseeable risk of harm to [Ray] arising from the threat of oncoming traffic by failing to take any steps to protect [Ray] while he lay immobile and helpless on Jefferson Avenue,” the lawsuit states.
The two officers failed to redirect, warn or signal traffic away from the scene and/or position their police cruiser in such a way that would protect Ray, the suit says.
The fact that Ray was handcuffed during this time was excessive because the plaintiff was placed in a “dangerous and vulnerable position in the middle of the roadway,” the complaint reads.
The suit also contends that no law enforcement officers were threatened with physical harm or from the risk of flight by Ray, and that the application of handcuffs “unnecessarily prolonged” Ray’s exposure on the roadway and threatened his physical well-being from the “foreseeable risk of harm from oncoming traffic.”
Ray was ultimately hit by a driver traveling in the northbound, right-hand lane of Jefferson Avenue, the suit states.
Markley, the complaint states, “removed himself to safety,” but left Ray “vulnerable, immobilized, handcuffed and exposed to serious bodily injury or death.”
After being run over by the vehicle, Ray had to be airlifted to Mercy Hospital, which is affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where he received treatment for severe injuries to his head, face and hips.
The actions of Cain and Markley, the suit claims, reflect a “manifest failure” of the City of Washington Police Department to properly train its officers on how to protect individuals in police custody.
The driver of the vehicle that ran over Ray, who was not identified by name in the civil action, pleaded guilty in the spring of 2012 to driving under the influence of alcohol, the record shows.
He was able to be placed into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, or ARD, program, in which offenders are eligible to have their records expunged upon completion.
In the lawsuit, Ray claims that as a victim, he was never afforded the opportunity to weigh in on the driver’s sentence, which the plaintiff feels was lenient given the circumstances.
Ray claims he was denied his substantive and procedural due process rights under the law.
The suit also contains counts of excessive force, battery, state-created danger, and a failure to train count against the municipal defendants.
Ray seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, along with costs, attorneys’ fees and other legal relief.
Ray is being represented by Pittsburgh attorneys Gary J. Ogg and David Kennedy Houck of the firm Ogg, Murphy & Perkosky.
The federal case number is 2:13-cv-01483-DSC.