In 2018, Jerry Blasingame was 65 years old and panhandling. Atlanta police officer Jon Grubbs is accused of using excessive force to deter the elderly man from committing the minor crime. As Blasingame attempted to flee the scene, he was chased and tased by the officer.
While being tased, Blasingame fell and hit his head on concrete, causing him to become paralyzed. He now requires consistent medical care. Ven Johnson, an attorney for Blasingame, said, “He was panhandling and the police, of course, rolled up on him, chased him and then ran after him.” On Aug. 27, he told local Atlanta news station 11 Alive that the officer struck Blasingame while he was about 10 feet away.
Johnson continued, “Since he’s not under arrest, he can run or do whatever he wants to do. Jerry then fell again, face forward, face planted in, smashing his head, multiple facial fractures, brain injury and broke his neck.” The outlet shared a video from the officer’s body cam footage. In the video, the 65-year-old is seen laying face down and motionless in a grassy area. Blasingame allegedly became unconscious during this time.
Georgia NAACP President Gerald Griggs, who is a lawyer, believes the large settlement may cause police departments to react better in certain situations. He used Grubbs as an example: “Do you really think that it’s a good idea to have somebody that’s [a] $100 million liability on your force still interacting with the citizens?”
Blasingame has already accumulated $14 million in medical bills thus far according to his lawyer. However, they remain hopeful that the funds from the settlement will aid in helping the now 69-year-old Atlanta resident work towards a sense of normalcy. Johnson shared that he’s “really, really happy for Jerry” because they are now seeing “just a little bit of movement in his arms.” He added, “Hopefully, now he will have money to fund his care so that he can live the rest of his life as best as he can possibly live.”