Police Abuse

Utah Man Reports Non-Injury Traffic Accident to Police, Ends Up With Expensive Medical Device Destroyed and Possible Lifelong Medical Trouble

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Is it a matter of potential life and death in which only police can save the day? If it isn't, you should really think three times before calling them. Utah man Mark Byrge has learned this lesson.

William Grigg tells the whole sad story at the Freedom in Our Time blog.

Mark Byrge/Freedom in Our Time blog

Byrge, driving a delivery truck, back in 2012 hit a tree branch protruding in the road; he reported the non-injury incident, involving only his vehicle, to the police. Who arrested him for an outstanding warrant on a previous traffic issue. When he asked them to cuff him in front because he had a very expensive and important medical device implant in his back, a Spinal Cord Stimulator, they refused.

Because of what Byrge insists–and which his wife, who overheard some of the actions on his live cell phone, corroborates–was pointless rough treatment from Officer Andrice Gianfelice, he ended up cuffed in back, slammed into the back of a police car, and then wrestled to the ground later in front of a hospital with Gianfelice's knee pressing into the place in his spine the device was implanted.

At the end of the experience, the device was ruined.

Why did Byrge have that device? Details from Grigg's blog:

The SCS was designed to send electrical impulses along Mark's spine in order to neutralize pain receptors. This allowed him to ramp down his dosages of narcotic prescription pain medications. This, in turn, is what made it possible for him to run his courier delivery business, which required both the physical capacity to load and unload cargo, and the mental acuity to drive his truck and fill out paperwork. Without the stimulator, Mark would either be too crippled to lift, or too doped-up to focus.

Subsequent medical scans of his stimulator documented that it went inactive on April 18, 2012 – the day that Officer Gianfelice, after arrogantly dismissing Mark's entirely reasonable request to be cuffed in the front, shoved him against the rear seat of his police cruiser.

What's life like for Byrge after he made the terrible error of calling the police?

Since that incident, "the patient's pain as gotten worse and his right leg is now showing signs of possible Complex Regional Pain Syndrome," observed Gary Child of the Utah Pain Relief Center in April 2013. CRPS is a serious degenerative condition that has left Mark unable to work – and is rapidly depriving him of the ability to walk.

Mark is a 43-year-old former football player and wrestler with a compact, muscular build and low center of gravity. He walks with the assistance of a cane as his right leg atrophies. Dark striations are inscribed in his right foot, ankle, and shin. His toes are splayed at wild angles owing to involuntary muscle contractions and spasms that convulse his right leg without warning or relief.

His body slowing cutting off circulation to his lower extremity "as if it is trying to break off my foot," Mark explained to me. CRP Syndrome can lead to other severe complications, including major organ failure.

After complaining through channels, Byrge found local police in American Fork, Utah, strangely unhelpful, and even claims to have had a threatening visit to his home by a local cop encouraging him to forget the whole thing.

By wild coincidence, although every officer in that town is supposed to be equipped with uniform video cameras, nothing that happened with Byrge that day was recorded by them.

And how did complaining do? From Grigg's blog:

As Mark attempted, unsuccessfully, to recover from the trauma inflicted on him by Officer Gianfelice, he filed complaints with the American Fork Police Department. He collected witness statements from several people who had been on the scene, as well as his wife and brother, who had overheard the incident over the open cell phone connection. He assembled statements from health care professionals about the damage done to him by Gianfelice's assault. When the AFPD didn't respond, Mark took his evidence to the Utah County Sheriff's Office.

Mark's persistence didn't endear him to AFPD Chief Lance Call.

"You've run to every agency on the Wasatch Front," groused Call when Mark contacted him to demand that action be taken against Gianfelice. "I already investigated it – and I cleared the officer."

"You didn't talk to any of the witnesses or review any of my evidence," Mark plaintively replied. "How can you `clear' him just by reviewing his side of the story?" 

"I told you `no'!" Call responded, hanging up…..

 The official inquiry, which was conducted by Sgt. Scott R. Finch of the Utah County Sheriff's Office, was the typical preordained exercise in validation. In his interview with Finch, Gianfelice repeatedly claimed that he "could not recall," "could not remember," or "could not recall from memory" several critical details of the incident.

Byrge is still fighting over the incident:

Fully disabled and unable to make a living, Mark is pursuing a civil rights case against the AFPD. He is also a candidate for the Utah State Legislature.

"My campaign is going to focus entirely on abuse of power by public officials, especially the police," Mark told me. "I'm in constant pain, and my body is literally devouring itself. I want to do anything I can to prevent this from happening to somebody else."

Meanwhile, the assailant who left Mark an invalid, Andres Gianfelice, is receiving a salary of $83,682 a year as part of a 33-officer force patrolling a city of 21,000 people with a negligible violent crime rate. ….