Connecticut Sued After Gang of White Cops Pounced, Tased & Smothered Black Man to Death

From [HERE] The family of a delirious Bahamian doctor who died in police custody in Connecticut can bring wrongful death and medical malpractice claims against police and a hospital, a federal judge ruled.

Lashano Gilbert, a 31-year-old medical doctor from the Bahamas, arrived in the town of New London to stay with his aunt in 2014. He is said to have graduated from a medical school in Cuba and was fluent in multiple languages. He was in the process of upgrading his medical licence in Canada.

On the evening of October 3, 2014, he jumped into a woman’s car, talked “gibberish” and allegedly assaulted her, authorities said.

After his arrest Gilbert got into a physical altercation with white officers at the police station. The officers subdued, shackled, stunned and pepper-sprayed him, and wrapped a towel around his face. Through the towel Gilbert said that he couldn’t breathe.

He died in police custody, and the medical examiner reportedly ruled his death a homicide, citing the cause of death as a physical altercation “during acute psychosis complication.” A white state’s attorney found that officers’ use of force was justified. [MORE]

The 18-minute clip shows the struggle starting when Gilbert twists up his jeans in an apparent attempt to use them like a rope. When the officers tried to prepare him to go back to the hospital that had discharged him after his arrest, Gilbert lunged at them, the state’s attorney’s report said.

In the video, Gilbert jumps up on the booking desk and throws a gas canister and a breathalyzer machine at three officers that misses. The three white cops and several more white cops who come running into the room pin Gilbert on the floor for more than 10 minutes as he continues struggling in the footage. He stops moving after one of the officers used the stun gun on him, but the clip shows him clearly moving again from time to time until the paramedics arrive.

Gilbert died minutes later in a homicide from “a physical altercation including restraint, electric shock and pepper spray” and complications from his Sickle Cell Trait, the state’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled in January, according to the report. He suffered an “acute psychotic episode” and his blood sickled during the struggle with the officers, Chief Medical Examiner Dr. James Gill concluded. 

Gilbert family attorney Jamaal Johnson told the Day the video shows a man who was “going through some mental health issues” and didn’t receive adequate treatment. Johnson is planning a civil wrongful death lawsuit, the newspaper reported. He's examining both the hospital and the subduing officers who held Gilbert down “for a significantly long period of the time with police blocking the video,” he said.

“That’s a lot of pressure to be on Lashano for a little guy,” Johnson said. “There were not even that many people on Eric Garner and that led to his demise. The punishment for having a mental illness and needing help cannot be death." [MORE]

Gilbert’s estate sued the police and hospital, later amending the complaint to name its co-administrators, Donna Smith and Albertha Fletcher, as the plaintiffs.

The defendants moved to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for the lack of an adequate medical opinion letter.

U.S. District Judge Michael Shea in Connecticut denied the motions on Tuesday, allowing the case to move forward.

“[The defendants] claim that the Estate of Lashano Gilbert lacked capacity and lacked standing, and that these defects cannot be cured by substituting the estate’s administrators,” he wrote. “I disagree: While the estate lacked capacity and was not the real party in interest, it did have standing, and substitution is warranted under Federal Rule of Procedure 17(a)(3).”

Shea also refused to dismiss the hospital from the case, despite its argument that Dr. Cronin-Vorih was the only medical professional named by the plaintiffs.

“Plaintiffs allege that Dr. Cronin-Vorih was an employee of Lawrence and Memorial Hospital, attended to Mr. Gilbert in the hospital’s emergency room with other hospital staff, and that there was an understanding that the hospital was in control,” the judge wrote.

Shea also refused the medical defendants’ request to sever their case from that of the police defendants.

“The events at the police station are relevant to the plaintiffs’ argument that Dr. Cronin-Vorih’s breach of the standard of care was the proximate cause of Mr. Gilbert’s death,” he wrote.