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NC woman called 911 with a noise complaint.  The cop who showed up broke his arm.

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If Cindy Gardner is asked to get her hands on the Bible this month in an Iredell County courtroom, she will use a permanently disabled left arm, according to her new federal lawsuit.

Gardner, a health care worker from Mooresville, faces an April 18 court hearing on a misdemeanor charge of resisting an officer. This week, she filed a complaint against the same cop who arrested her two years ago.

She accuses the Mooresville police sergeant. Russell Clark of angrily and illegally pulling Gardner from her apartment and knocking her to the ground. When he prepared to handcuff her, according to the lawsuit, Clark jerked and twisted Gardner’s arms backwards with such force that he fractured her left arm, an injury that required surgery. .

A post-surgery photograph, which is included in the complaint, shows a serpentine arc of surgical staples running from Gardner’s left shoulder to just above his elbow.

Cindy Gardner needed surgery in 2020 when she claims a Mooresville police officer broke her shoulder when she wouldn’t show him ID at her home.

Gardner’s alleged crime on the night of April 8, 2020 did not involve threats, violence or active resistance to the officer, according to his lawsuit.

Instead, the 5-foot-3, 105-pound defendant says Clark became physical after failing to produce identification while standing in her home.

His court filing accuses Clark and the City of Iredell County of excessive force, assault and battery, and violations of Gardner’s Constitutional protections under the Fourth and 14th Amendments against unreasonable search and seizure, and of due process under the law, respectively.

Mooresville police attorney Pat Flanagan of Charlotte and city spokeswoman Kim Sellers did not immediately respond to Observer emails Wednesday seeking comment. Gardner’s attorney, Will Smith of Raleigh, declined to comment.

Clark was the Mooresville Police Department’s “Officer of the Year” in 2020 and was credited with saving two lives in 2021.

Gardner’s trial, however, adds Clark to a growing list of police defendants facing legal scrutiny for their use of handcuffs, an essential part of law enforcement. In February, for example, a former Hickory police sergeant was sentenced to three years in federal prison for punching a handcuffed woman in the body after a parking lot dispute.

Two years ago this month, Gardner, then 49, called Mooresville police at 9:15 p.m. on a Wednesday night to complain about noise outside her apartment complex and the spread potential of COVID-19, according to the lawsuit.

Clark showed up at her door. According to the lawsuit, the conversation became strained almost from the start.

When she asked him if the city had a curfew, Clark said no, then walked to his patrol car. Gardner followed. This time, she asked if he would enforce a community rule for 10 p.m., the hour of silence. Clark, according to the lawsuit, “grossly refused the request.”

Just before 9:30 a.m., he returned to Gardner’s apartment. At this time, a group of people were standing in the breezeway outside his front door. She was standing in the doorway.

According to the lawsuit, a bystander told the officer “She just kicked them,” referring to Gardner. Gardner told the officer the allegation was not true.

“I need your information,” Clark told Gardner.

Unsure of what Clark wanted, according to the lawsuit, Gardner invited him to his apartment to talk.

This time, according to the lawsuit, Clark yelled at Gardner to bring his driver’s license to the door.

Instead of complying, Gardner says she took a cigarette, tried “to strike up a civil conversation” with Clark and told him she was “tired of all the noise.”

The back and forth briefly continued until Clark began yelling, “Give me your license or you’ll go to jail,” the lawsuit alleges.

Before Gardner could run, clark — without a warrant — reached the apartment, pulled her out of her home and pushed her to the ground, according to the complaint. He then proceeded to handcuff the woman. Gardner says she didn’t resist.

Nevertheless, Gardner asserts clark acted “with such aggression and force” that he blew off his shoulder and broke the bone in his upper left arm. She remained handcuffed in the back seat of her patrol car until clark ordered another officer to take him to a local hospital. An EMS unit was never called, according to the lawsuit.

Gardner says the injury left his arm permanently disabled. His lawsuit accuses clark to use an “unreasonable” level of force that another officer in the same situation would have deemed excessive.

Other recent lawsuits have made the same claim:

Last year, a Charlotte driver sued a Mooresville and city police officer, claiming he smashed her window with his billy club during a 2018 traffic stop, dragged her through the opening and had thrown her on the broken window after having trouble putting in her car registration document. The case was settled last May.

In a complaint filed in December, the widow of Mooresville resident Chris Craven accused two police officers of fatally shooting her husband outside the couple’s home as he tried to comply with their orders to stand ground and drop his weapon. Police had been called to the residence after Craven threatened to kill himself. A special prosecutor cleared the officers of any foul play in June. The trial is due for trial in March 2023.

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