A 30-year-old Miami man has been left paralyzed from injuries he suffered when he launched into a disabled parking space after being tased in the back during a misdemeanor police chase.
Jesus Goratereaux fractured his spine and suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury in the fall, leading him to be hospitalized for more than two months, his attorney Lee Marks tells New Times.
"This was clearly a devastating, life-altering, and traumatic event for Jesus. He was just 29-years-old when he was tasered from behind and when officers knew he was unarmed, non-violent, and posed no threat to them or anyone," Marks says.
Marks says Goratereaux was minding his business on January 5 in a Kendall West strip mall near El Palacio de los Jugos when a conflict that did not involve him broke out nearby.
Five Miami-Dade officers answered the call in "reference to a female on scene causing a disturbance," according to a police report obtained by New Times through a public records request.
It is unclear why Goratereaux was interviewed by police. However, he offered up a false name and birth date and then bolted when a search revealed he had an active warrant for driving with a suspended license, police say.
The foot chase ended between a dry-cleaning business and a sushi shop, when police lit Goratereaux up with two 50,000-volt Taser prongs and he went limp.
"The fall caused Goratereaux to hit his head on a concrete parking curb and to lose consciousness for approximately 15 seconds," the police report states.
Police cuffed Goratereaux "without any further incident," the report states.
Goratereaux was rushed by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue to HCA Florida Kendall Hospital.
"Jesus is now paralyzed from the waist down," Marks says.
New Times has been attempting to obtain body cam video from the Miami-Dade Police Department since January. The request was denied by the department, which claimed, "the release of any information from an active investigation could jeopardize the case."
Camera footage of the plaza obtained by New Times depicts the tragic final moments of the chase. The source who provided the footage asked not to be named, citing privacy concerns.
Miami-Dade police revised its taser policy in 2015 after the death of 18-year-old Israel Hernandez and other taser-involved police incidents sparked an investigation into the department's use of the devices. In August 2013, Hernandez suffered fatal injuries from being tased in the chest by a Miami-Dade officer, who was pursuing the teenager after he was caught tagging graffiti on a building.
As reported by New Times, the revised policy advised officers against aiming tasers at a subject's chest. It also clarified that officers should refrain from deploying tasers "when the subject does not pose or appear to pose an immediate threat of physical force against an officer, other persons, or himself/herself."
The department's current taser usage guidelines permit the use of tasers in situations of "active physical resistance," which lists "fleeing" as an example alongside "circling [an] officer" and "assuming a 'boxer stance.'" The section on fleeing, however, discusses deploying tasers only on felons and people who have committed violent misdemeanors.
The guidelines advise officers to weigh a suspect's size, age, and "apparent ability to physically endanger the officer or do harm to oneself or others, balanced against the seriousness of the incident."
Goratereaux is charged with misdemeanor resisting an officer without violence. He has entered a plea of not guilty; a trial hearing is set for May 24.
"Jesus was basically a day laborer who lived day to day looking for work by Home Depot to support his child," Marks says. "He is not a violent guy."
When asked if his client would be able to walk again, Marks responded, "It doesn't look like it."