A homeless man who fell, hurt himself and ended up paralyzed while running away from Atlanta police officers is expected to receive a multimillion-dollar payout from the city, which could impact future services, one city leader said.
A jury initially awarded Jerry Blasingame $100 million after he was Tasered and left paralyzed. A federal judge reduced the amount, meaning Blasingame could receive at least a $40 million payout, Fox Atlanta reported.
“This would put a substantial dent in the amount of services that we would be able to provide to citizens across the board,” City Councilman Michael Bond told the news outlet.
Blasingame, 69, was panhandling near a freeway when he attempted to run away during the July 10, 2018, encounter with police officers. An officer said he Tasered Blasingame because he thought he was going to run into traffic. The shock caused Blasingame to fall and seriously injure himself. He became unconscious and was bleeding profusely from his head while the officer called for medical assistance.
He was transported to a trauma center at Grady Memorial Hospital. Since then, he lives at an around-the-clock facility rendered a “prisoner in his own body” with a severe spinal cord injury, and he is unable to use all four of his limbs, Blasingame’s attorney, Ven Johnson, said in August.
“(Officers Jon) Grubbs gets out of the car and starts chasing my client — a 65-year-old man— and for what? For potentially asking people for money?” Johnson said during closing arguments, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Over the summer, the city increased its public safety budget to pay firefighters, make improvements to the 911 communications center and purchase and maintain security cameras with a host of other items in the largest-ever annual budget, according to the news outlet.
“The things that got funded in this last budget are occurring expenses. And the things and amenities that make Atlanta great would be on pause over several budgets,” Bond told the news station.
After the incident, Grubbs was placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation, but he was reportedly allowed to return to his full capacity of duties six months later. The Atlanta Police Department declined to comment to Fox News on the lawsuit.
Fox News’ Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.