SALT LAKE CITY — A 60-year-old convicted poacher has filed a civil suit claiming Utah game wardens caused rotator cuff tears in both of his shoulders by handcuffing him behind the back.
West Point resident and Ogden businessman Gordon Wesley Marble alleges he pleaded with two Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officers not to cuff him behind the back because he was recovering from a tear in his right rotator cuff.
But he said they ignored his requests and then his cries of pain during a 30 to 45-minute ride over a bumpy road to the Kane County Jail in Kanab.
Marble’s right shoulder tore again, and the left shoulder sustained a tear after he strained to compensate for the right-shoulder pain, Marble said in a suit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court.
The rotator cuff is a structure of muscles and tendons that holds the shoulder bones in place.
The complaint accuses the state agency and its employees of deliberate indifference to a suspect’s medical and physical needs; excessive force; and failure to adequately train and supervise conservation officers.
Kane County prosecutors filed poaching charges against Marble, his son, and the mayor of Hurricane after DWR investigators said Marble illegally killed a trophy deer on Oct. 22, 2016.
Marble, 58 at the time, pleaded guilty in 6th District Court to attempted wanton destruction of wildlife. The original charge was a third-degree felony, but prosecutors reduced it to a class A misdemeanor in a plea bargain.
A judge sentenced Marble to a year in jail but suspended the term. He fined Marble $4,700, payable to the DWR’s Help Stop Poaching program, and ordered 50 hours of community service.
His son, John Wesley Marble, entered a plea in abeyance to attempted destruction of protected wildlife. In court records, authorities said he received a less significant charge because the deer he killed was not a trophy animal.
John Marble paid a $400 fine to the anti-poaching program and a judge dismissed the charge after he completed terms of the plea in abeyance.
Prosecutors accused Hurricane Mayor John Wayne Bramall of helping to arrange the illegal kills. He pleaded guilty to a class A misdemeanor, got a one-year suspended jail sentence and paid a $4,700 fine.
A probable cause statement filed by DWR officers said they watched the Marbles hunting in an elk hunting preserve owned by Bramall, who was driving them around in an ATV.
The Marbles left with two dead deer in their truck and were stopped on U.S. 89 nearby. The Marbles had valid deer hunting licenses and tags, but it is illegal to kill deer in the elk preserve, according to the statement.
In his lawsuit, Gordon Marble said he was not armed when DWR agents stopped him and he was compliant with their instructions.
He said he told officers the handcuffing was causing severe pain and could aggravate the previously torn rotator cuff, which was still healing.
According to the suit, one of the officers “falsely stated that the officers were required to handcuff Gordon behind his back because ‘it is policy’ to cuff behind the back, and there were no exceptions.”
Marble’s attorney, Robert Sykes, included in the suit a copy of a DWR policy governing restraint of prisoners.
Officers may cuff a prisoner with hands in front or use different restraint methods if the prisoner has a physical handicap, has injuries that could be aggravated, or must be transported a considerable distance over rough roads, the policy says.
After returning to Northern Utah, Marble needed three surgeries on his left shoulder and a fourth on the right, the suit said. It added that Marble suffers from numbness and weakness in his arms and has seen substantial business losses because of missed work.
Faith Heaton Jolley, DWR spokeswoman, said Monday the agency had no immediate comment on the suit. As of Monday, the agency had not yet been served with the suit.