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Settlement reached in suit alleging manhandling of mentally incapacitated woman by LBPD

City News Service

A mentally incapacitated 23-year-old woman would receive $47,000 under a tentative settlement reached with the city of Long Beach over a confrontation with police in 2019 in which she suffered a broken arm that required surgery. 

The settlement of Maquoyia Rodgers’ case, outlined in court papers filed by the plantiff’s attorneys, is subject to approval by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Daniel S. Murphy during a hearing scheduled Feb. 5. The judge’s consent is needed because of the plaintiff’s mental state. 

Rodgers was 22 at the time of the June 18, 2019, encounter with police, according to a lawsuit brought Aug. 26 on her behalf by her mother, Marsha Coles, who is not herself a plaintiff. The suit alleged civil rights violations, negligence, battery and use of excessive force, and sought unspecified damages. 

The officers’ presence, coupled with the attempted removal of Rodgers from her home against her will, was a “militaristic, menacing and threatening response to an obviously mentally incapacitated woman who was exercising her right to remain in her home,” according to the suit, which alleged the police response to a call for assistance was “completely unreasonable and grossly mishandled from start to finish.” 

Rodgers was known to some LBPD officers from prior domestic disturbances at her Long Beach home, according to the suit, which described her as a “mentally incapacitated Black female who was under a physician’s care and on medications.” 

Coles attributed her daughter’s irrational behavior, in which she would yell and act aggressively, to her medications wearing off, but did not believe her to be a threat to anyone’s safety, the suit states. 

The evening of the incident, a relative of Rodgers called police for assistance regarding aggressive behavior exhibited by the plaintiff and two officers were dispatched to her home. Rodgers was surprised by the officers’ presence, but she cooperated and gave them the information they requested, according to the suit. 

Coles later arrived and told the officers her daughter’s behavior was due to a change in medication and that she would be all right if she went for a ride to calm down, but the officers insisted that Rodgers be detained and taken to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, the suit says. 

Rodgers told the officers she did not want to go to the hospital, but they refused to leave and began an effort through the state Welfare and Institutions Code to remove her from her home on grounds she was a danger to herself or others, the suit states. 

Rodgers was not a danger to herself or others and no mental health experts were summoned by police to assess her mental state, according to the suit, which alleged the “situation called for de-escalation and there were multiple options available to the officers if they were in fact concerned for plaintiff’s well-being.” 

After being placed handcuffed in a police car, Rodgers was able to remove the restraints. One of the officers tried to restrain her again by yanking her left arm behind her back despite her resistance, breaking her limb in front of onlookers at the scene, the suit states.

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