Elderly Man Tasered by Police...

by Joyce
(Supply, NC, USA)

My sister and I take care of our 73 yr old retired, above the knee amputee father. He was not acting mentally correct, had become combative and from past medical problems we recognized symptoms as UTI or another stroke.

He's had 3 strokes in the frontal lobe which causes excessive behavior in all emotional areas. My father had gotten an old rusty machete and was making threats at us and growling. We had the situation under control, we were holding the door and seeking medical help by calling 911.

All at once 2 officers busted in the front door. My first reaction was to wonder where the EMT's were since he is sick. Then I was just thinking "DO NOT SHOOT MY DADDY!"

It scared me from seeing mishaps of police judgements on TV. One officer went to the bedroom door and spoke with my father, he was still angry, hitting the door. I told the officers the weapon he had was not sharp enough to do harm, I just wanted to get him out of the bedroom and to a hospital. My father was still growling like an animal.

It was obvious his mental status was not right and we stressed to the officers that urinary tract infections in elderly men could cause dementia. My dad has been diagnosed with dementia from infections, and we had been advised by the home health care agency and the hospital to be on the look out for any of these signs.

My father had no pants on and had urinated on the floor prior to the police getting there. We felt that was the problem and he needed medical attention. The second officer asked me if there was another entry to the room and I told him no. He then asked if there were windows to room and I said yes.

I went outside with him, took him to the windows and he wanted to open them from the outside but told him they wouldn't open. I told him I could get my Dad over to the window which put him a great distance from door where the other officer and my sister were. I tapped the window and called my father and he approached.

The officer then became angry, prying the screen off the window. My Dad made a face with both hands freely on each side of his head. I told the officer that his partner could then get in since my Dad cannot turn around where he was located at the time.

All at once the officer took off screaming to the other side of the house to get back into the room. I followed behind him screaming NO! My father has had 4 heart attacks and 3 strokes, he has a wire in his chest, he is wet, has no pants and is an amputee. He should not be subjected to force.

The officer ran straight through the house, threw the door open (knowing my Dad was across the room), and then shot him 2 times with taser. The other officer made a comment that he would not be able to forget this incident for a long time. Both officers handled the incident very poorly and subjected my father to unnecessary, dangerous force.

The EMT that arrived later argued with me about UTI's. I was also told I was going to go to jail. I was trying to let them know Dad's history when 3 other officers appeared. They all stood in the living room and admired my Father's medals hanging in the box over the mantle, and made comments about his military career which were incorrect.

They were calling him "special forces" which he was not. It was obvious that they all have issues with military retired personnel.

A 73 yr old, weak and sick veteran needing medical attention turned into "taking down RAMBO". I have called Internal Affairs at the advice of my cousin who worked for the police and now is head of the DMV for the state of NC.

The man in Internal affairs wants to come to the house and investigate the scene. I don't know what to do at this point but I feel we need an attorney. My father's condition revealed almost all the B vitamins were depleted from his system which is also common in the elderly and mistaken for dementia.

He also has a fractured T-8 vertebrae which was most likely caused by severe contracting of muscles from being tasered. The orthopedic doctor said it is common in someone with health issues such as my Father. I feel we need legal council ASAP.

Should I let Internal Affairs come to talk to him to investigate or should I have legal council present? Thanks for any perspective you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Elderly Man Tasered by Police...":

Joyce (Supply, NC, USA):

There is every likelihood when you or your sister called 911 you mentioned your father had a machete. Once you made that statement the police are immediately dispatched. They are always dispatched to calls wherein a deadly weapon is being reported to be brandished.

A machete is very much a deadly weapon. Whether your Dad was quite ill or not, police officers are trained to first take the weapon away from the person brandishing it and then ask questions later. We did some research and were unable to find any instances of a person suffering a fractured vertebrae from contracting muscles during a taser attack.

The fact that your father has dementia made the scene even more dangerous. There are thousands of cases wherein people with forms of dementia were in such a state of mind that they shot or killed those around them, including, but not limited to, family members.

The police had no way of being assured your father would not pose a threat of serious bodily injury or death to them, or to you and your sister. Your father was most probably tasered because he refused to comply with the officer's command to drop the weapon.

What would you have expected the police to do? How were they supposed to negotiate with a man with dementia brandishing a weapon. Although you say the weapon was not sharpened, the police didn't have time to measure the width of the blade. Even a dull machete can kill someone in an instant. Machetes also have points at the end of the blade.

You can go ahead and pursue your claim with Internal Affairs but it is highly probable you will be told the same thing. You should consider yourselves lucky no one was injured or killed. Deadly weapon + police all too often often add up to a sad (i.e. deadly) ending.

You were probably close to being arrested becaue you were not following police commands. When a police officer tells you to do something, and you refuse, you will probably be arrested.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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