Taser-Happy Cops?

If you’re having a seizure, maybe the antidote is a good tasing. At least that’s what two Austin, Minnesota cops thought. Dustin Sheeley called 911 because his brother Scott was having a seizure. The paramedics arrived along with the Austin Police. In the middle of Scott’s seizure, he was restrained and handcuffed. When he “refused” to be still, a police officer decided to shoot the man with his taser gun at least four times, in spite of Dustin yelling at them that his brother was in the middle of a seizure. The paramedics administered two drugs to Scott, Haloperidol and Lorazepam (the former an anti-psychotic drug and the latter an anti-anxiety drug, both having unpredictable side effects). Finally, he calmed down, but only because he experienced respiratory arrest and then had a heart attack. For the next 11 minutes, the paramedics tried reviving him until eventually he had a pulse again.

Now, the Sheeleys are suing the 2 cops and the paramedics for “excessive force, deliberate indifference to medical needs, battery and negligence.” According to the formal complaint:

“[Sheeley] has suffered, and continues to suffer, the following: respiratory arrest; cardiac arrest; loss of heartbeat; loss of oxygen; Taser wounds to the torso; abrasions to knees and elbows; brain injury; loss of vision; headaches; broken ribs; physical pain; continued seizure; and severe emotional anguish.”

 Who in their right mind would tase someone because he wouldn’t be still during a seizure? The police assert that Scott was being “combative,” and that he was trying to assault his brother. That’s the nature of a seizure. It manifests itself by uncontrollable convulsions. It calls for medical attention, not police brutality. He wasn’t breaking the law. Maybe those cops should be given a shot of that anti-psychotic drug.

There was another case recently in the UK where a cop had tasered a man because he thought the man was wielding a Samurai sword. It sounds somewhat justified until you find out the rest of the story. Colin Farmer is an older man who is also blind and had previously suffered through 2 strokes. He was holding a walking stick so that he could navigate his way down the street. He had heard something behind him and thought it was a mugger. Not being able to defend himself in such a circumstance, he kept walking, hoping that this “mugger” would go away. The next thing he knew, he was on the ground in pain and in convulsions:

“I thought that I was honestly going to die, and they were going to kill me. All my muscles turned to dust, and I thought I was having another stroke. I said ‘I’m blind, I’m blind. I’m blind,’ but this policeman knelt on me and dragged my arms round my back.”

 It turns out, the police were looking for a Samurai sword, and they said that the man’s walking stick resembled the description. The police said that they “deeply regretted” tasing an already disabled man. Later that afternoon, police were able to apprehend the real owner of the reported Samurai sword. He was arrested without a taser gun and then released without charge.

Cops are called law enforcement because they’re supposed to enforce the law, and some of them do. But whose law? Maybe their own? Maybe they should be called “will enforcement” because to many of them, it’s about the thrill of exerting power over others.