Police Leave Double Amputee Lying on Ground During Arrest, Video Shows

The woman's lawyer told ABC News today that he plans to file a lawsuit.

December 9, 2016, 4:06 PM

— -- A woman with a double amputation was left lying on the ground for several minutes after she fell off her wheelchair while being arrested at a gas station in Miami-Dade County, Florida, according to videos captured by witnesses and a police officer's body camera.

The woman who was arrested -- 52-year-old Mary Brown of Homestead, Florida -- lost the lower half of her legs several years ago due to diabetes, according to her lawyer, Mark DiGowan. He told ABC News today that her arrest was "egregious, given the fact she is disabled."

Brown was arrested for allegedly trespassing and panhandling at a Chevron gas station in Homestead on Dec. 3, DiGowan said. Brown denies the allegations of trespassing and panhandling, according to DiGowan.

Brown's arrest first gained national attention earlier this week, when cellphone video taken by witnesses was shared on social media.

On Thursday, the Miami-Dade Police Department released longer videos of the incident that were recorded by a body camera worn by one of the officer's involved.

The police department wrote in a statement that the release of the body cam footage was part of its "commitment to openness and transparency."

In the first body cam video released by police, two officers can be seen arguing with Brown about her alleged panhandling and trespassing before they eventually push her in her wheelchair to their patrol car and ask her to get in.

Brown can be heard repeatedly saying, "I didn't do anything wrong" and "I'm not going in that car." She is then seen on the video slamming the patrol car door shut.

The two officers eventually try to handcuff Brown. She responds numerous time, "Stop hurting me."

At one point during the handcuffing attempt, an officer can be heard saying, "Whatchu gonna do? You’re gonna hit me? Are you gonna hit me?" The other officer replies, "I think that’s what she was trying to do."

Shortly after, Brown can be seen falling off her wheelchair to the ground.

"See what you did?" she says.

"You did that," one of the officers replies.

DiGowan said that Brown was left "laying on the ground in pain" for at least five minutes.

In a second video taken from the same body cam, Brown can be seen eventually being picked up off the ground and placed back into her wheelchair. She is later seen being put onto a stretcher and into an ambulance.

DiGowan said an ambulance took her to jail. He said that Brown was released of her own recognizance on Thursday.

According to DiGowan, police officers told Brown she was arrested for panhandling, but the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office has not yet filed any formal charges against Brown.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, and the owner of the Chevron gas station where the arrest occurred, could not be immediately reached for comment today.

DiGowan said he plans to file a lawsuit against Miami-Dade County on behalf of Brown. On Thursday, he sent a statutorily required notice to the state and county of his intent to file a lawsuit.

In the notice obtained by ABC News, DiGowan wrote that the Miami-Dade police officers who arrested Brown "acted in a reckless, wanton and grossly negligent manner." He also said that Brown suffered "severe injuries" as a result of the arrest.

The Miami-Dade Police Department did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

However, the department's director, Juan Perez, did release a statement on Thursday, saying that he has "taken a personal interest in the video regarding the arrest of a disabled woman in South Miami-Dade."

"As a result, I've directed staff to contact organizations for disabled persons, to ensure our officers are utilizing current best practices when dealing with individuals requiring special assistance," Perez said. "Although this discretionary arrest was appropriate, it's important that we continue to work with our community and social service agencies in identifying alternatives to arrest that can provide meaningful assistance to those in need while addressing the quality of life concerns of our residents and businesses."

DiGowan criticized Perez's response.

"They certainly should not have waited to train their officers," he said. "Ms. Brown was stripped of her dignity. She has never experienced something like this in her entire life. This was obviously a living nightmare for her."