SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – After a preschool teacher fell at school and declined medical treatment, he says, police tackled him in his classroom, Tasered him repeatedly, injected him with a tranquilizer and took him to a hospital by force.
Roland Haas sued El Dorado County, the City of South Lake Tahoe, the California Tahoe Emergency Services Operations Authority and others, including an ambulance company, paramedics, policymakers and police officers, in Federal Court.
“Roland Haas was employed as a teacher or teacher’s aide at the Under the Magic Pine Tree pre-school in the City of South Lake Tahoe,” the complaint states.
Haas says he felt lightheaded and fell in a hallway at around 3 p.m. on March 23, 2011. A co-worker called 911.
Within two minutes of falling, Haas says, he “was able to stand on his own. He told his coworkers he was fine and walked into the bathroom at the preschool, under his own power, in order to compose himself. One of plaintiff’s coworkers accompanied plaintiff to the bathroom.”
While he was in the bathroom, Haas says, EMS paramedics arrived and “found plaintiff standing, without assistance, in front of a sink and mirror.”
“Upon finding plaintiff Roland Haas standing on his own in the bathroom, the EMS Paramedics began asking plaintiff numerous questions and stated to him that they were going to take him to Barton Memorial Hospital, which is located about 100 feet away from the pre-school, to be treated by a doctor,” the complaint states.
“In response to the EMS paramedics questions and statements, plaintiff Roland Haas stated unequivocally that he did not want to, or need to go to the hospital in an ambulance and that he was declining medical treatment. The EMS paramedics nevertheless continued to state to plaintiff that they were going to take plaintiff to Barton Memorial Hospital in an ambulance and plaintiff repeated his statements that he was declining medical treatment and did not want or need to go to the hospital in the EMS Paramedics’ ambulance.
“Barton Memorial Hospital is approximately 100 feet away from the Under the Magic Pine Tree pre-school where plaintiff Roland Hass worked.
“In further response to the EMS Paramedics’ continued insistence that they were going to take plaintiff Roland Haas in an ambulance to Barton Memorial Hospital, plaintiff Roland Haas stated to the EMS Paramedics that he did not want to go in an ambulance to Barton Memorial Hospital because he did not want to incur an expensive ambulance charge to go to the hospital which was simply about 100 feet away. However, after continued badgering by the EMS paramedics, plaintiff Roland Haas stated to the EMS paramedics that he would walk to Barton Memorial Hospital or have one of his coworkers drive him there. In response to plaintiff Roland Haas’ statements that he would go to Barton Hospital under his own power or with a coworker, the EMS paramedics stated to plaintiff that he could not go to Barton Memorial Hospital on his own power or with a coworker, that he did not have a choice in the matter, and that the EMS paramedics were going to take him to the hospital in an ambulance. In response to the EMS paramedics’ statements, plaintiff Roland Haas again stated that he would not go to Barton Memorial Hospital in an ambulance and that he was declining medical treatment and assistance. At about this time, plaintiff Roland Haas returned to the classroom at Under the Magic Pine Tree pre-school to continue working.”
During this time, Haas says, “one or more of the EMS paramedics contacted the South Lake Tahoe Police Department and requested assistance from the police.”
As he worked in his classroom, Haas says, South Lake Tahoe Police officers barged into his classroom and confronted him. He says the police ordered all the children and all staff members except him to leave.
“(A)fter the police officers had cleared the classroom and closed the door, the police officers stated to plaintiff that he was required to comply with the EMS paramedics orders and that he must allow the EMS Paramedics to transport him to Barton Memorial Hospital in an ambulance,” the complaint states.
“In response, plaintiff Roland Haas stated to the police officers that he felt fine, was unequivocally declining medical assistance and that he would not go to Barton Memorial Hospital in an ambulance. The police officers continued to badger plaintiff with questions and statements and plaintiff reiterated that he felt fine, was declining medical assistance and would not go to Barton Memorial Hospital in an ambulance.
“Plaintiff Roland Haas proceeded to exit the classroom where the police officers had confronted him to continue to perform his work when the police officers, without warning, attacked plaintiff, who is a man of average stature, seized him and tackled him down to the floor. This action by the police officers terrified plaintiff and caused him to suffer great bodily injury and pain.
“Upon being tackled to the floor by the police officers, and while plaintiff Roland Haas was lying face down and under the control of the police officers, defendant Officer Deeana Lewis drew her Taser gun and under the direction of Sgt. Brian Williams, inflicted a ‘drive stun’ Taser shot to plaintiff Roland Haas’ lower back, inflicting great bodily injury and pain on plaintiff Roland Haas such that he was made to scream very loudly from the shock of pain.
“After the police officers had tackled plaintiff Roland Haas and while they maintained a complete and effective hold of and control over plaintiff Roland Haas, plaintiff Roland Haas was struck multiple times in his face by the police officers.
“Thereafter, and while the police officers continued to hold plaintiff Roland Haas face down and under their control on the floor, defendant Sgt. Brian Williams ordered defendant Officer Martinez to inflict further drive-stun Taser shots to plaintiff Roland Haas with defendant Officer Martinez’s Taser Gun and defendant Officer Martinez inflicted a second drive-stun Taser shot to plaintiff Roland Haas’ lower back while the other police officers maintained a complete and effective hold of and control over plaintiff Roland Haas. Upon being hit with the second Taser drive-stun, plaintiff Roland Haas again experienced great bodily injury and severe pain and screamed as a result of such pain.
“Plaintiff is informed and believes that at about the time defendant Officer Martinez inflicted the second drive-stun Taser shot to plaintiff Roland Haas’ lower back, defendant Officer Inman, with great and excessive force, wrenched plaintiff Roland Haas’ left arm behind his back in such a manner as to cause plaintiff to suffer a shoulder sprain and great pain in his left shoulder and arm, and proceeded to place a handcuff on plaintiff’s left wrist.”
While he was stunned, facedown and handcuffed, Haas says, “Sgt. Brian Williams again ordered Officer Martinez to inflict a third drive-stun Taser shot to plaintiff Roland Haas’ body. At that time, defendant Officer Martinez did inflict a third drive-stun Taser shot to plaintiff Roland Haas’ lower back causing plaintiff to suffer additional great bodily injury and severe pain and to scream as a result of such pain.
“Plaintiff is informed and believes that while the Police Officers continued to maintain control over plaintiff Roland Haas and hold plaintiff face down on the floor and while plaintiff Roland Haas’ left wrist was secured in a handcuff and held behind his back, defendant Sgt. Brian Williams or one of the other Police Officers ordered defendant Scott Blasser or one of the other EMS Paramedics to inject plaintiff Roland Haas with a tranquilizer. At that time and without plaintiff Roland Haas’ consent and despite plaintiff Roland Haas’ specific statement that he was refusing medical assistance and treatment, defendant Scott Blasser and/or one of the other EM paramedics, with the use of a hypodermic syringe inflicted an unauthorized 5 mg intramuscular injection of the potent Food and Drug Administration regulated drug Midazolam (Versed) on plaintiff Roland Haas.
“Plaintiff is informed and believes that the drug Midazolam (Versed) is a highly potent Food and Drug Administration regulated drug in the benzodiazepine class which is typically used for inducing sedation and amnesia before authorized surgeries are performed on hospital patients.
“After attaching, restraining and seizing plaintiff Roland Haas, and after he had been subjected to no fewer than 3 drive-stun Taser shots and an unconsented-to injection of a potent tranquilizer and after he had been placed in handcuffs behind his back, such that plaintiff Roland Haas was fully restrained and under the control of the Police Officers, the police officers placed shackles on plaintiff Roland Haas’ ankles, thereby rendering him hobbled.
“After plaintiff Roland Haas had been tackled, restrained, seized, handcuffed, drive-stun Tasered three times, injected with a tranquilizer, and hobbled, the police officers and EMS paramedics forced plaintiff Roland Haas onto an ambulance gurney, placed additional restraints upon his body and placed him inside an ambulance in order to transport plaintiff to Barton Memorial Hospital. Thereafter, the EMS paramedics, accompanied by Officer Inman, transported plaintiff Roland Haas about 100 feet by ambulance to the Barton Memorial Hospital Emergency Room.
“Plaintiff Roland Haas remained restrained and seized by the police officers at the Barton Memorial Hospital Emergency Room while being examined by nurses and doctors at the hospital until such time that he was discharged by a doctor at the hospital. It took the medical staff at Barton Memorial Hospital no more than about 13 minutes from the time plaintiff was brought to the Emergency Room to discharge him.”
But it still wasn’t over. Haas says police forced him to stay there “to await an evaluation by a representative from the El Dorado County Department of Mental Health.” He says the mental health worker determined that he was not “in any way a danger to himself or others,” and cleared him to go.
In a final irony, Haas says, he had to return to the hospital that night because of the pain he suffered from the police beating.
He says the hospital diagnosed him with “a left shoulder sprain, pain, an abrasion to his left wrist, and several wounds to his lower back, all of which were the result of having been attacked, restrained and Tasered by the police officers while at the Under the Magic Pine Tree pre-school.”
Haas adds: “During the period of time that the police officers were attacking, restraining and seizing plaintiff Roland Haas and had him pinned face down to the floor and under their control and were subjecting him to repeated drive-stun Taser shots and an unconsented tranquilizer injection, plaintiff Roland Haas on multiple occasions asked the police officers why they were doing this to plaintiff and at no time did any of the police officers advise plaintiff as to why he was being attacked by the police officers and subjected to repeated drive-stun Taser shots and an unconsented-to injection of a tranquilizer.
“At no time relevant herein did any of the police officers advise plaintiff Roland Haas that he was under arrest, that he had committed a crime, that he was under any sort of investigation, that he was endangering others, or that any of the conduct weapon, and in fact, at such time, plaintiff Roland Haas was unarmed and did not possess any weapon of any sort and the defendants were fully aware of this.
Haas seeks medical costs – including the $1,500 ambulance ride across the street – and punitive damages for excessive force, constitutional and civil rights violations, depriving him of the right to refuse medical treatment, municipal/supervisory liability, medical malpractice, assault and battery, medical battery, and false imprisonment.
He is represented by Edward Rizzuto, with Stewart Humpherys Mollin & Griffith, of Chico.