A double amputee has filed a lawsuit accusing members of the Lincoln Police Department of physical and mental abuse during a 2011 traffic stop.
Leroy Duffie, 60, of Lincoln says police forced him to get out of his van at gunpoint after stopping him Sept. 3.
Duffie alleges that police officers ridiculed his disability and held him on the ground for 30 minutes while conducting a fruitless search of the van.
Rod Confer, city attorney for Lincoln, said Thursday he could not comment on pending litigation.
A woman who answered the phone at Disability Rights Nebraska, which is representing Duffie, said no one was available to comment.
Duffie is seeking compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering.
He alleges that he was humiliated and suffered “the loss of the enjoyment of life” due to the officers' actions.
In the lawsuit, filed Aug. 22, Duffie says police stopped his van on 27th Street.
He said officers approached the van with guns drawn and ordered him to raise his hands and get out of the van.
Duffie, who is black, told officers that he “couldn't raise his hands and get out of the van at the same time” because he needed his hands to help lift his prosthetic legs, which were improperly held on with duct tape.
When he tried to get out, one of his legs fell off. He hit his head and tore his left rotator cuff while falling to the ground, according to the lawsuit.
Officers handcuffed Duffie while he was face down in the street, the suit says.
One officer allegedly ridiculed Duffie about being “a cripple crawling around” as other officers searched the van.
The lawsuit doesn't specify whether officers told Duffie why they were searching the van or why the van was stopped.
Duffie has a lengthy history of contacts with Lincoln police, mostly for traffic violations. He was convicted of drunken driving in 2012.
The lawsuit says Duffie suffers from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. The suit alleges that police maliciously humiliated him and “refused to help a vulnerable person with a disability” following the van's search.
After the handcuffs were removed, the lawsuit says, Duffie had to crawl under the van to retrieve the prosthetic legs. He had emergency surgery on his shoulder the next day to address the torn rotator cuff.