Man claims wrongly arrested, abused

Man in wheelchair accused of counterfeit money orders

By Ryan Korsgard - Reporter

HOUSTON - A man who uses a wheelchair said he was wrongly arrested and mistreated by Houston police when he tried to cash some money orders.

John Simon relies on his wheel chair to get around.  He is partially paralyzed from the waist down.  On September 3, 2011, he wheeled himself into the PL$ Check Cashing location on Bellaire in southwest Houston.

"I attempted to cash three money orders," said Simon. "I was apprehended by the police and was told that my money orders were fake."

He said the workers were suspicious of his $2,600 in money orders. 

He said he spent two days in the city jail with no charges filed.  He said police did not allow him to tend to his medical problems and he got an infection. 

Then he was taken to Ben Taub Hospital in handcuffs and was forced to use his wheelchair to travel more than five miles from the hospital back to the jail to collect his belongings after he was released from the hospital and from police custody. 

"In the rain, with no clothes on, I had on a paper gown with no clothes on.  No cell phone," Simon said. "I was put out by the same officer that was here at PL$ that took me to jail."

Community activist Quanell X said Simon was treated like an animal. 

"It's a disgrace what happened to this young man.  It's inhumane what happened to this young man," he said. "And the HPD as well as this check cashing facility must be held accountable."

A spokeswoman for PL$ would not talk about this case specifically.  But she said the employees are taught to call the police when they see something suspicious.

Houston police said no charges have yet been filed, but said the validity of the money orders has not been determined.  HPD said it had no record that Simon filed a complaint against the department. 

Police said, however, if you feel like you have been inappropriately treated by police, please file a complaint.

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