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Christopher Shaw

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Local activists in Texas are demanding justice for Christopher Shaw, a Black man who was paralyzed more than a year ago by a Beaumont police officer while in custody for public intoxication.

During a press conference on Thursday attorneys and advocates for Shaw demanded the body camera video of the officer involved be released to the public and asked for the Department of Justice to open a federal investigation.  

“Even today, we are asking, demanding that Gov. Abbott demand the release of the video, Bishop William J. Barber told the media. “And any other politicians that care about justice that are running for office should be demanding the release of the video.”

Christopher Shaw’s journey has been a long one. 

According to a lawsuit filed last month, on June 12, 2021, Shaw was arrested for public intoxication by Beaumont police officer James Gillen. He was then taken to a hospital for evaluation before being transported to the Jefferson county correctional facility. Police said Shaw was restrained for “noncompliance.

The lawsuit goes on to say that before Shaw entered the facility he slightly turned his body and officer Gillen responded by body slamming Shaw’s head into the jail’s concrete floor, fracturing his spine in multiple places and paralyzing him.

Shaw was then allegedly given no help for his injuries. The lawsuit adds that Shaw was left alone in his jail cell for almost 20 hours, where he “defecated and urinated on himself multiple times due to his inability to control his bowels and kidney function,” before receiving any medication attention. And when he asked a nurse for help, she allegedly told the injured Black man, “I won’t help you until you help yourself.”

Video of the incident was captured by officer Gillen’s body camera, but Beaumont authorities claim that releasing the video could jeopardize jail security.

Shaw’s attorney Harry Daniels says he has seen the video and is working with civil rights advocates to get it publicly released. 

Since the incident, life has been tough for Christopher Shaw.

Daniels said his client’s life has been drastically changed forever.

“He was once an able-bodied young man before he was assaulted. He can no longer stand or walk. He is a prisoner of his own body. He spends a majority of his day in bed due to the fact he doesn’t have the resources to hire a full-time caregiver,” Daniels told KBMT.

He also told the publication that Shaw doesn’t have the means to pay for physical therapy or the proper treatment he needs for a full recovery. 

“Cases like Mr. Shaw’s make it clear that police brutality is not just wrongful death,” said Bishop Barber during the Thursday press conference. “This man was wrongfully and brutally harmed and such non-lethal violence may leave the victims alive, but only to live a kind of death with all of their other injuries.“

Christopher Shaw’s suit is against police officer James Gillen, the city of Beaumont, and CorrHealth. 

We will continue to update this story as we learn more.


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