State Workers Accused Of Beating Brain Damaged Man

POSTED: 09:03 AM MDT May 10, 2012    UPDATED: 03:44 AM MDT May 11, 2012 
PUEBLO, Colo. -

A federal lawsuit claims state workers at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo beat up a man who has the mind of a 12 year old and covered it up with lies - all of it over a can of soda.

Surveillance video from the CMHIP state hospital shows Shawn Whittaker being wrestled to the ground, then strapped to a table with restraints.

Whittaker has the mind of a 12 year old because of a brain injury he suffered when he was hit by a drunk driver. He came to the CMHIP voluntarily for depression.

He left the hospital with a broken arm, badly injured ankle and severe bruising from his chest to his feet.

"They (hospital police) essentially beat him up, punch him, break his arm, tie him down and refuse to let him have medical treatment for 16 hours," said J. Reinan, Whittaker's Attorney, "it's outrageous is what it is and people should be upset about this."

He says in the video, which has no audio, Whittaker's arm is already broken when he's strapped to the table, but his cries for help are ignored by the staff.

Whittaker was injured so severely he needed surgery. According to court records, the surgeon was upset over the "obvious delay" in getting him help.

This all started because of Whittaker's psychological addiction to Mountain Dew.

Whittaker didn't understand the CMHIP's "pop and locker time" rule, he was upset and yelling.

After Whittaker and his family complained, an investigation was launched. Whittaker's attorney says the hospital claims to only have the one video.

It starts when Whittaker and state employees are already scuffling in the solitary confinement room. There's no video showing how they got him in there.

No video from the room where the soda controversy started.

No video from the hallway where hospital police say Whittaker hit one of them.

The lawsuit claims the officers involved conspired to fabricate a story to protect themselves.

Then, based on those lies, after Whittaker's guardian filed a federal lawsuit, he was arrested on a felony for attacking the officers.

"People should be upset about what happened to Mr. Whittaker and should be even more upset that they're prosecuting him for complaining about being treated this way," says Reinan.

For now, Whittaker's injuries are documented and obvious.

The state workers claim he attacked them, but so far no pictures or video of that.

It appears to be their word, against the word and injuries of a mentally disabled man.

We've been trying for months to get CMHIP's side of this. Whittaker even signed a medical waiver giving Target 13 Investigator James Jarman access to his hospital records, and the investigation into the soda pop incident.

CMHIP has given us nothing.

The Pueblo D.A. says he can't comment on the criminal charges because it's a pending case and he's not at liberty to discuss it.

Federal Lawsuit Against Mental Health Institute Employees