Assault cases involving prosthetic limbs

Assault cases involving prosthetic limbs

Though we might not readily think of them as such, prosthetic limbs can indeed be used as weapons. After all, a weapon is anything used or intended for use in causing death or injury to persons, whether it is designed for that purpose or not. Popular culture features many characters who have weaponized prostheses. Pirates like Captain Hook are armed with deadly hooks where hands ought to be, Bond villains fight with bionic hands or pincers, and, more recently, assassins like Kingsman’s Gazelle sport blade prostheses armed with actual blades.

However, in real life, artificial limbs are just medical devices that are sometimes turned into makeshift implements of pain during the heat of an altercation. Here are a few examples of assaults that feature prosthetic limbs as weapons:

Some legs may be made of wood, but they can still kick some butt

Back in the late 19th century, when leg prostheses were still made of wood, there were notable cases where amputees used their wooden legs to attack people. According to an 1893 article in the Illustrated Police News, a man named Patrick Murphy used his wooden leg to assault a constable — and he was proficient at it, too.

Another incident occurred on August 22, 1895. The Pierre Weekly Free Press reported that a fellow named Harry Crawford accidentally ran into a man with a wooden leg while driving. The latter then used his prosthetic to beat up Crawford so badly that doctors who ended up treating him couldn’t save his life. Talk about road rage.

Not the best way to spend Christmas

On Christmas Eve 1998, Bart Moody, a sheriff’s deputy in Mt. Vernon, WA, responded to a report that a resident named Curtis Drovdahl was attacking his live-in girlfriend. Apparently, the deputy drew the assailant’s ire towards himself because Drovdahl used his artificial right arm to attack the officer, causing head injuries that needed to be treated at a hospital.

In court, prior to being sentenced, Drovdahl pleaded with the judge, saying “I got a daughter that I love. I’ve got full custody of her. I have a job waiting — I start on the 15th of this month. It’s my birthday today.” However, the judge called the man’s actions “reckless, impulsive, and stupid” and sentenced Drovdahl to 50 months in prison.

Adding injury to injury

Sometimes, in an awful twist of fate, assault victims are attacked with their own prostheses.

    Kicked with his own leg

    According to a Myrtle Beach police report in 2013, a 35-year-old South Carolinian named Joel Parrish shoved Jeffrey Johnson off a moped and started to punch and kick him. Then, when the latter’s artificial leg fell off, Parrish allegedly picked it up and began pummeling his victim with it. No motive was noted in police records.

    Bashing what’s left of his legs

    Ex-lovers Brandon Fleming and Jadian Hatfield have a son together, but Fleming held custody until new custody arrangements are set up. But apparently, Hatfield couldn’t wait. In September 2012, she showed up at Fleming’s home with two men and tried to whisk the boy away.

    Fleming attempted to take his son back, but was overwhelmed by his ex-girlfriend’s party. During the altercation, his prosthetic leg fell off. Hatfield proceeded to hit him with it, until he managed to grab it back from her. She pulled out a deadlier weapon — a shotgun — forcing Fleming to retreat.

    She drove off with their son but was caught by the police soon after. Hatfield was promptly charged with domestic violence, battery, and interfering with the custody of a minor, among many others.

    Confrontation gone awry

    In 2004, Michael Clapp went up to his neighbor Rodney Prophitt and claimed that the latter stole a bottle of pills from him. Apparently, that didn’t go well, because Prophitt then allegedly pushed Clapp to the ground, pulled Clapp’s prosthetic leg off, and started hitting the amputee with it.

    Prophitt apparently hit Clapp hard enough to break the latter’s nose. Not surprisingly (and rightly so), the assailant was charged with felony assault.

Artificial limbs are meant to literally help people back up on their feet, not bring them down on their hands and knees. If you’ve been attacked with such medical tools or any other type of weapon, makeshift or otherwise, know that you have recourse in the law, and that you can rely on Buckingham, LaGrandeur & Williams to help you get the justice you deserve.