WATCH: Police Body Cams Capture Arrest of Epileptic Man Having Seizure That Sparked Brutality Suit

GLASSBORO, NJ – After Taharqa Dean has a seizure, he often doesn’t know where he is or understand people talking to him. It’s a common symptom following a complex partial seizure.

That disoriented state can be exacerbated into aggression if not handled properly, according to the Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey.

And that’s what happened to Dean when police officers found him on Reading Street after a seizure two years ago, his lawyer says. He was pepper sprayed and ended up in the hospital with multiple injuries.

Dean is suing the department for $2 million in damages, arguing that officers used excessive force and engaged in a “merciless assault” when his seizure symptoms made him incapable of following orders.

The officers were wearing body cameras that captured the incident. NJ Advance Media obtained the footage of the incident through a public records request to the police department, and separate, un-redacted clips from the recording from Dean’s lawyer, Stanley King, who practices out of Woodbury.

Others have had similar stories across the country. In Reno last year, James O’Doan was arrested after he had a seizure and charged with resisting arrest. Andrea Nicole Hansen says she was arrested in Pismo Beach, California, for resisting arrest and public intoxication after having an epileptic seizure.

In most of these cases, including Dean’s, the charges are dropped, but officers don’t take issue with how they initially handled the situation.

While Glassboro won’t comment on pending litigation, the incident report in Dean’s case, and an expert on police use of force, said officers behaved appropriately to control Dean as he became more aggressive.

“I’ve never seen a case of epilepsy like this,” said Maria Haberfeld, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan.

“The police officers, they are not medical officers,” she said. “Somebody who’s behaving in a violent manner where it’s not clear what’s the cause of this, (officers) will use physical force to issue compliance.”

Around 9 a.m. on Sept. 23, 2015, officers responded to a report of a man having a seizure. It was Dean. The footage shows them waiting with him and speaking calmly as an ambulance arrives and they get him onto a stretcher.

“Just focus on your breathing, alright?” Patrolman Kyle Snyder says as Dean lays on the grass. “Just breathe, help is on the way.”

Another officer says “I’ve actually talked to him before, he told me he has seizures.”

Dean, not totally conscious, tries to get up and stumble away, but the officers and medical personnel lay him on his side before lifting him into a stretcher. The officers left, the encounter seemingly over.

But minutes later, ambulance personnel radioed for police, as Dean was trying to get out of the stretcher and was tangled in the safety straps. He was also kicking and fighting emergency members, the police report says.

The same officers pulled up to the ambulance as Dean attempts to get out of the ambulance.

The incident report states that Dean kicked Patrolman Michael Fanfarillo several times from the back door of the vehicle.

A piece of the footage obtained from King shows Dean speaking incoherently and kicking as he stumbles out of the vehicle. Much of the ambulance encounter provided by the borough, including this section, was redacted.

Two officers then take Dean to the ground, holding his face to the asphalt as they try to pull out handcuffs. Dean then bites one of the officers before they get him into the handcuffs.

“What’re you gonna bite me for?” one officer says. “I’m talking to you like a person, treating you normal.”

The incident report says Dean was reaching for an officer’s weapon before they handcuffed him, but this is not shown on the video.

Haberfeld, who has penned several books about police training, said the incident “doesn’t look pretty,” with a bloodied man on the ground, but the officers’ conduct seemed “completely by the book” to her. NJ Advance Media shared the footage with her this week.

“In my view, I don’t see an excessive use of force,” she added. “They are constantly telling him to calm down … he’s screaming at the top of his lungs and is noncompliant.”

She mentioned the continuum of force, and noted that the officers started by calmly speaking to Dean to try to get him to comply and to get him to the hospital for an evaluation. She said the officers did not escalate to using “impact devices” like batons. The highest it escalated was when Officer Kyle Snyder used the pepper spray.

Source: http://www.nj.com/gloucester-county/index.ssf/2017/10/video_is_nj_mans_arrest_excessive_force_or_by_the.html

If you haven't already, be sure to like our Filming Cops Page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Please visit our sister site Smokers ONLY

Sign Up To Receive Your Free E-Book
‘Advanced Strategies On Filming Police’


About author

Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5621 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

You might also like