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Woman Who Fell Out of Moving Patrol Car While Handcuffed Sues LAPD [UPDATED]
A 27-year-old woman critically injured while in police custody is suing the Los Angeles Police Department, claiming she fell out of a moving patrol car while handcuffed.
The incident took place on March 17, when Kim Nguyen had been drinking in Koreatown with friends. While waiting in a parking lot for a ride from a sober friend, Nguyen was approached by LAPD officers who had been inside a marked patrol car, according to the LA Times.
The officers questioned Nguyen and her friends, but did not detain them at the moment. They circled back and picked up Nguyen when she was crossing the street to go inside a restaurant.
Nguyen says the officers, David Shin and Jin Oh, placed her in cuffs and sat her in the back seat of their patrol car. One of the officers told her "she was being taken into custody for public intoxication."
As the suit contends, the LAPD officers "failed to secure [Nguyen] with a seat belt and did not use an outside lock on the door," notes NBC Los Angeles.
Nguyen tumbled out of the patrol car on Olympic Boulevard at Grand Avenue.
Surveillance video from a building nearby shows the patrol car on the street, and "shows Nguyen lying in the street, apparently still handcuffed and with the top of her dress down around her waist and blood visible on her head and face." (The Times has the video on their site, which was provided to them by Nguyen's attorney.)
Officers stand over her as she regains consciousness, and paramedics arrive on scene.
Nguyen believes she did not try to eject herself because she was handcuffed, and she does not recall falling out of the car.
The Loyola Marymount student says she suffered extensive critical injuries, including a shattered jaw, lost teeth, and a brain bleed—the latter of which still requires ongoing medical attention.
The LAPD's version of the incident claims the "officer driving came to a stop at the intersection and that Nguyen fell out of the car as it accelerated to about 10 mph." Nguyen's attorney cites the video that shows the car going at a higher rate of speed, and not slowing in the intersection.
Patrol cars come with special locks officers are expected to employ when transporting a suspect.
The LAPD has not confirmed if there is an internal investigation regarding Nguyen's arrest and injury.
UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 4, 8:30 A.M.: The LAPD Internal Affairs Division has announced in a release that they are nearing the completion of a six-month personnel complaint investigation surrounding Nguyen's incident. A relative of Nguyen made a citizen complaint on March 18, alleging negligence against the officers involved in Nguyen's arrest. A second personnel complaint was filed on June 19 by Nguyen claiming damages in the incident. Both complaints were consolidated into one.
The Chief of Police will review the findings of the investigation and determine if disciplinary actions need to be taken against the officers.