Clemmons man files federal lawsuit against highway patrol, sheriff

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Forsyth County Sheriff Bill Schatzman (WGHP)

FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — A Clemmons man is alleging in a federal lawsuit that the state trooper who arrested him in 2011 beat him so badly that he had to have emergency surgery and also used a racial slur against him, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

He also alleges that staff at the Forsyth County Jail ignored his requests for medical treatment.

An attorney for Jeremy Oliver, 51, filed the lawsuit Oct. 31 in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of North Carolina, which covers Forsyth County. The lawsuit names the state trooper, Jeramie William Baity; the N.C. Highway Patrol; Forsyth County Sheriff Bill Schatzman; and Forsyth County as defendants. The case has now gone into mediation, and no trial date has been set, according to online court records.

Lt. Jeff Gordon of the N.C. Highway Patrol issued a statement Wednesday.

“The State Highway Patrol is 100% certain that our Trooper did nothing wrong, and we eagerly look forward to the opportunity to exonerate Trooper Jeramie Baity in a court of law.”

Baity, who was scheduled to come on duty at 10 p.m. Wednesday, could not be reached for comment. Schatzman did not return two messages left on his cell phone, and Chief Deputy Brad Stanley, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, declined to comment on the lawsuit. County Manager Dudley Watts said he could not comment on pending litigation. Christopher Ward, attorney for Oliver, did not return messages seeking comment.

In the lawsuit, Oliver said that Baity arrested him Nov. 1, 2011 at a gas station in Clemmons on a DWI charge and that Baity placed handcuffs on him in a way to intentionally cause him pain. Baity drove Oliver to the Forsyth County Jail in downtown Winston-Salem and took him to a prisoner transport area, the lawsuit said.

“Upon information and belief, Plaintiff, while detained and without provocation, was slammed to the ground by Defendant Baity in the Prisoner Transport area,” the lawsuit said. “In addition, Plaintiff was struck multiple times while on the ground with his hands cuffed, slammed into the wall, slammed into the floor, punched, and grabbed by the back of the neck.” Oliver said in the lawsuit that he wasn’t resisting.

Then, according to the lawsuit, Baity used a racial slur against Oliver, who is black, saying that Oliver’s head is hard.

The lawsuit alleges that Oliver asked for medical treatment multiple times when he was brought before a Forsyth County magistrate but that jail staff ignored him. He said in the lawsuit that pictures taken while he was being processed at the jail show injuries to his face, jaw and back as well as visible cuts, bruises and bleeding.

When a standard medical intake screening was done, Oliver alleges that he was only given a few bandages, had his blood drawn and was forced to stay at the jail. The lawsuit said that he was taken before a Forsyth County magistrate later and was told he would be held in custody until noon on Nov. 2, 2011. The lawsuit said he was released from jail at 1 p.m. Nov. 2, 2011, and he went home. He took medication but when his symptoms didn’t improve, he went to Forsyth Medical Center, the lawsuit said.

According to the lawsuit, Oliver had surgery for “multiple jaw fractures, a broken chin, teeth damage, and cuts and bruises. He couldn’t work for six months, the lawsuit said, and Oliver continues to have jaw and lower back pain, headaches and difficulty speaking.

In the lawsuit, Oliver alleges that his constitutional rights were violated. Baity used excessive force, and the jail staff failed to provide medical treatment, the lawsuit alleges. The N.C. Highway Patrol failed to provide proper training and supervision for its troopers.

The lawsuit said that Oliver filed complaints with internal affairs for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and the N.C. Highway Patrol and that those investigations had concluded. It wasn’t clear from the lawsuit whether any action was taken as a result of the internal investigations.

The DWI charge that Oliver was arrested for in November 2011 is still pending. His next court date is Jan. 15.

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