Saying he was injured and humiliated after sheriff’s deputies stripped him naked and restrained him in a chair at the Ventura County Jail, an Oxnard man served a lawsuit on deputies Tuesday alleging that they violated his civil rights.
Kurt Von Colln, 38, alleges that deputies used excessive force in strapping him to a special chair, ultimately breaking his ankle.
He also says that while he was restrained for five hours at the jail, he was never charged with a crime.
Sheriff’s officials say that Von Colln was arrested for public intoxication and placed in a “detox cell,” where he stripped off his own clothes, exposed himself to jail staff and pounded on walls and windows of the cell.
When deputies confronted Von Colln about his belligerent behavior, he became confrontational and assumed a fighting stance, said Sheriff’s Department spokesman Capt. Mark Ball.
“This guy can’t play by the simplest of society’s rules and now he wants to get paid for it. It’s great work if you can get it, I guess,” said sheriff’s counsel Alan Wisotsky.
Wisotsky said deputies did not check Von Colln’s alcohol level, but concluded he was intoxicated based on his behavior.
According to Ball, deputies may legally detain someone for public drunkenness without officially charging him or her.
“It’s an old law that was put in so that a person’s life doesn’t have to be ruined by getting drunk in public one time,” Ball said. “When they are no longer drunk, we can let them go and not charge them.”
Filed last month in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the suit says that Von Colln crashed his bicycle on May 28, 1996, hit his head on the ground and was knocked unconscious.
Von Colln alleges that he woke up in a holding cell at the Ventura County Jail and demanded to know why he had been arrested. After an hour, deputies pulled him from his cell, stripped him naked and strapped him into a “black chair,” according to the suit.
Refused use of the bathroom, Von Colln defecated and urinated on himself in the chair, while deputies “ridiculed, laughed at, tortured and humiliated him,” according to the lawsuit.