A Northern California man, Gregory Gross, has agreed to a $20.3 million settlement after being paralyzed during an arrest, marking one of the largest police misconduct settlements in the state’s history.
The incident occurred in April 2020 when Gross, a U.S. Army veteran, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Police body-camera footage showed an officer forcing Gross to the ground, causing a broken neck and resulting in permanent paralysis.
Gross, a resident of Yuba City, was working as a seasonal truck driver at the time of his arrest. The video evidence captured him being forced to the ground while handcuffed, experiencing extreme pain, and shouting “I can’t breathe.”
Subsequently, officers lifted Gross, who mentioned he couldn’t feel his legs. He underwent two surgeries to fuse his spine and is now unable to use his legs, feet, or hands, requiring continuous nursing care.
Yuba City Pays $17.6 Million as Part of Settlement
The specific parties involved in the settlement and their respective contributions to the total $20 million were not disclosed. However, online court records revealed defendants in related lawsuits included three police officers, the City of Yuba City, physicians, medical practices, and nationwide staffing organizations.
The tweet below verifies the news:
A man left paralyzed after police traffic stop wins $20 million settlement 💰
Gregory Gross claimed that the use of force applied by the officers left him unable to care for himself or walk, as well as leaving him requiring 24-hour nursing care for the rest of his life. pic.twitter.com/dMv9jlBCaZ
— Daily Loud (@DailyLoud) July 12, 2023
Yuba City Police Chief Brian Baker publicly apologized for the officers’ actions and announced measures to prevent such incidents in the future. The city paid approximately $17.6 million as part of the settlement.
Significance of the Settlement
The settlement in Gross’s case is one of the largest in California’s history involving police misconduct. It follows a trend of high-profile settlements, including a $24 million civil rights settlement with the family of Edward Bronstein, and Minneapolis’ $27 million agreement in the George Floyd murder case. Gross’s attorney emphasized that their stance is not against the police but against police brutality.
Legislative Response and Future Precautions
In response to cases involving positional asphyxia, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation in 2021 prohibiting restraint techniques and transport methods that pose a risk to breathing ability.
Yuba City’s police department has since implemented several measures, including regular audits of officers’ body-camera videos, enhanced use-of-force case reviews by supervisors and management, additional de-escalation training for officers, and an early warning system to monitor use-of-force incidents.
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