Tasered for Suffering a Seizure, Man Says
(CN) - Police permanently injured a man's brain by Tasering him repeatedly in response to a 911 call that he was suffering a seizure, the man claims in court.
Scott Sheeley sued the City of Austin, Minn., its police Officers Chad Norman and Kevin Sederquest, and Gold Cross Ambulance Service, in Minneapolis Federal Court.
Austin, pop. 23,000, is about 75 miles south of Minneapolis, near the Iowa line.
The complaint states: "In response to a 911 call seeking medical assistance because plaintiff Scott Sheeley was suffering a seizure, City of Austin Police Officers and Gold Cross Ambulance Service paramedics went to Sheeley's home on a 'Sick Cared For' assignment. Instead of providing medical care, police officers, with the assistance of ambulance paramedics, violently restrained Sheeley, depressing his ability to breathe, and repeatedly shocked him with a Taser gun. Ambulance paramedics then administered drugs to Sheeley that further depressed his ability to breathe, sending him into respiratory arrest and cardiac arrest. As a result, Sheeley suffered physical and emotional injuries, including permanent brain damage."
Sheeley says he suffered a seizure in November 2011 and his brother Dustin, a former Army medic, called 911.
"To prevent injury, Dustin Sheely restrained his brother during the 911 call," the complaint states. He also removed his brother's pants, because Sheeley had urinated on himself.
When Norman and Sederquest arrived, "Dustin Sheeley was holding plaintiff with one arm. Dustin let go of plaintiff when the police and paramedics came downstairs. Plaintiff took the pants his brother had taken off of him and swung the pants at his brother once as his brother moved away from him," according to the complaint.
Sheeley says the officers immediately restrained him by "pushing a knee on his back while he was in handcuffs, causing his head to be pressed against the back cushion of the chair, all while he was still convulsing. Dustin Sheeley yelled to the police officers and paramedics that his brother was having a seizure.
"The two police officers kept yelling at plaintiff, while plaintiff continued to shake and convulse in the chair. Then another police officer arrived on the scene and restrained Dustin Sheeley against the wall."
As Sheely continued convulsing, "Defendant Norman pulled out an electronic control device ('Taser' gun). Dustin Sheeley yelled at him, 'Don't Taser him, he is having a seizure,'" the complaint states.
"More officers arrived on the scene and continues to retrain both Dustin Sheeley and plaintiff.
Defendant Gold Cross Ambulance Paramedic Emily Anderson assisted defendants Norman and Sederquest to restrain plaintiff and removed the red-colored top part of the Taser gun that was being held by Officer Norman.
"Dustin Sheeley continued yelling for the officer not to use the Taser on plaintiff because he was having a seizure.
"Defendant Officer Norman shocked plaintiff with the Taser at least four times after he was restrained in the chair and after he was handcuffed. The shocks from Norman's Taser injured plaintiff and left wounds on his shoulder, back and under his left armpit."
After the repeated Tasering, "Emily Anderson injected plaintiff with the drugs Haldol and Ativan," Sheeley says. Both can depress respiration and Haldol can cause sudden death and seizures, according to the complaint.
Not surprisingly, it adds: "After being restrained and after being injected with Haldol and Ativan, plaintiff stopped shaking in the chair, and stopped moving while he was still face down in the chair cushion and handcuffed.
"As a result of being improperly restrained, in particular after concurrently having received Ativan and Haldol, the plaintiff suffered respiratory arrest and ceased breathing.
"As a result of the respiratory arrest, plaintiff suffered cardiac arrest."
Paramedics tried to revive Sheeley for at least 11 minutes before he regained a pulse, the complaint states.
"Rather than being violently restrained, plaintiff should have been treated with calming behavior," Sheeley says.
He adds: "Defendant Officers Norman's and Sederquest's use of force was not necessary to effect an arrest or capture, or to prevent the escape of a person officers knew or had reasonable grounds to believe had committed or attempted to commit a felony involving the use or threatened use of deadly force.
"Defendant Norman and Sederquest acted with reckless or callous disregard of or indifference to plaintiff's rights and safety.
"As a result of defendants' conduct, plaintiff 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."
Sheeley seeks punitive damages for excessive force, deliberate indifference to medical needs, battery and negligence.
He is represented by Leslie Lienemann, of St. Paul.