Cops Accused of Overkill on Sick Woman
SHERMAN, Texas (CN) - As her husband begged them to "put the gun away," Texas police repeatedly shot and Tasered a demented 67-year-old woman because she wouldn't drop a letter opener, then told the husband they had "saved his ass," the man claims.
David Seyfried sued the City of Lewisville Police Department and six of its officers in Federal Court, for his wife Dolores Seyfried.
Seyfried says he called the Dallas Alzheimer's Association hotline after "Dolores had become agitated with (him) and had a four [to] five-inch letter opener in her hand" at their home in Lewisville, a Dallas suburb.
The Dallas Alzheimer's Association then contacted Lewisville police without his consent, Seyfried claims.
Defendant Lewisville Officers George Reed and Sgt. Courtney Letalien arrived as David tried to calm Delores down in their back yard, the husband says.
"Letalien immediately attempted to remove David from the back yard while holding an orange shotgun in his hand," the complaint states. "David became very upset once he saw the shotgun and believed at that time that there was no need for such measures. David repeatedly pleaded with Letalien to 'put the gun away' and explained that he can calm her down and that no force would be needed.
"David did not believe that Delores posed a threat to anyone and even explained to the officer that he had not been stabbed as reported to officers by the DAA. Letalien forced David to the front of the house so he could not see what was happening with his wife."
David says that as he argued with Letalien, Reed shot Delores with a Taser.
"When Delores did not fall, Letalien immediately shot Delores with the less lethal shotgun at her thigh," the complaint states. "When once again Delores did not fall or release the letter opener, Letalien shot Delores once again in the other thigh. The second round did knock Delores to the ground but she was able to get back on her feet. Defendants allege that Delores maintained her hand on the letter opener during this time. When Delores turned to walk away from the officers, Letalien shot Delores a third time in the left buttocks with the shotgun. When the third round did not cause Delores to fall, Letalien switched to his Taser and deployed a cartridge with one probe hitting Delores in the back and the other hitting her on her right buttocks. Letalien found this force to be 'effective' when she fell to the ground."
Reed then tried to step on her wrist to handcuff her, David says, and thinking she was resisting, Reed Tasered her again.
After an ambulance took Delores to the hospital, David says, the police "declared 'exigent circumstances' and searched their home against his objections."
"While David continued to shout his disapproval at the officers, he was told that they 'saved his ass today,'" the complaint states.
Reed then called the Dallas Alzheimer's Association and reported that David could not take care of Delores, David says.
"This action was unnecessary and ... it was done with actual malice," David says.
He claims his wife's wrist was broken in two places and she needed 17 staples inserted for injuries inflicted by the police.
Worse yet, he says, the episode "increased the severity of her Alzheimer's and she now requires around-the-clock nursing staff."
The Lewisville Police Department sent nine squad cars to the home, but no charges were brought against Delores, her husband says.
He seeks punitive damages for excessive force and wrongful search and seizure. The Seyfrieds are represented by Kris Balekian Hayes of Dallas.
Lewisville Police Chief Russ Kerbow declined to comment.
"We have yet to be served on this lawsuit and it would inappropriate for me to comment on pending litigation," Kerbow said in an email.