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  1. #1
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    PA - Patrick Johnson, 18, dies after being tasered, Philadelphia, 7 Oct 2010

    Patrick Johnson was no stranger to police. He was not a bad kid. Not a drug dealer or a gang member. Johnson had mental health problems.

    The 18 year old was acting dangerous when his family called police. He was darting in and out of the house grabbing tree branches and trying to set them on fire. He was a danger to the family. Police with crisis intervention skills came to help, but Johnson lunged at them. When he was tasered he still kept acting violent. He was tasered a second time and died at Nazareth Hospital.

    Neighbors said the police were constantly at the house for Johnson and another family memeber and that they did have mental health issues. They'd take him and keep him in hospital for a few days and send him back home.


    http://www.philly.com/dailynews/loca...Taser_him.html

    My heart goes out to this poor family. My heart goes out to the poor Officers. I can't imagine the pain these poor people had every single day dealing with a young adult who acted out through no fault of his own. I know the police felt awful. The family was known to Officer's in that district.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Filly View Post
    Patrick Johnson was no stranger to police. He was not a bad kid. Not a drug dealer or a gang member. Johnson had mental health problems.

    The 18 year old was acting dangerous when his family called police. He was darting in and out of the house grabbing tree branches and trying to set them on fire. He was a danger to the family. Police with crisis intervention skills came to help, but Johnson lunged at them. When he was tasered he still kept acting violent. He was tasered a second time and died at Nazareth Hospital.

    Neighbors said the police were constantly at the house for Johnson and another family memeber and that they did have mental health issues. They'd take him and keep him in hospital for a few days and send him back home.


    http://www.philly.com/dailynews/loca...Taser_him.html

    My heart goes out to this poor family. My heart goes out to the poor Officers. I can't imagine the pain these poor people had every single day dealing with a young adult who acted out through no fault of his own. I know the police felt awful. The family was known to Officer's in that district.
    It's just so sad to think of a family calling LE for help with their mentally ill child, and then watching him die from being tased.

  3. #3
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    This was my life for about 20 years. It is hard. There's only so much police can do but I have to say I can't imagine an officer in my town tazing a minor or young adult with mental illness. They cannot legally restrain a raging child but will instruct a parent or sibling to do it. I've been knocked unconscious countless times, suffered a broken pelvis and deep and nasty bites, been struck with a pipe, had a huge trash can thrown at me. The police can only stand and watch and try to talk the escalated child or teen down and ask if I want an ambulance. It's a horrible cycle.

    And if the child happens to be a foster child no one, not the police nor the foster parents, can even imply restriction of egress (the ability to leave). It can get comical until something tragic like this happens.

    I've spent many hours doing trainings with first responders about the way children perceive crisis and how to work with them. First responders are hungry for education as it's hard to watch a young person so out of control. I suggest that any parent who is dealing with a mentally ill child or teen should partner up with their local parents' advocacy group and call for meetings with LE. Much can be learned from both sides. It's really too late if you wait for a crisis.

    In my experience, I've never once seen a police officer be confrontational with a raging and violent child. It's always been a stand off to the side or down the street and watch situation, no matter how we might have begged for some help. It's a very challenging problem with few answers.

    My prayers go out to the family. This is tragic.

  4. #4
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    Couldn't medication have helped? Some tranquilizer? I mean they shoot tranquilizers at animals to put them down safely so they can transport them, without causing them bodily harm...

    Along with calling LE, also call medic, or have them handy in the home before they get too far out of control?

    I know it's a hard place to be. Thanks for sharing your story.
    My Opinion Only..MOO

  5. #5
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    This is my biggest fear. My 23 yo is epileptic. In his postictal phase He is extremely combative. He has no recollection of it but he walks with a real drunken looking stagger as he can barely stand,he is unreasonable, and slurs his words. It last for about 30 minutes or so after his grand mal seizures.
    he had a seizure at the wheel one night and a friend of his just happened to be on the road and next to him at the time. he saw him seizing at the wheel and when he crashed into a barrier, the friend shielded him with his car and called 911. It took 4 firefighters and 4 policemen to get him in the ambulance because he was fighting them.
    I truly believe if the friend had not been there to tell them he was epileptic and that he saw him having the seizure they would have tazed him and I also think it would have disastrous affects on him.
    Thank God this group had the patience to work with him and for realizing he was not drugged out or a psycho.
    But this family is living my nightmare and I am so sorry for them.

  6. #6
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    Sedation can never be used on a foster child, under any circumstances. For birth or adoptive children, medications must be taken on a regular and supervised basis...with "cheeking checks". Sedatives can only be administered by a physician in a hospital setting. I once begged an on call psychiatrist for some sort of sedation--anything--for a child who was in his 6th hour of screaming. The police had drug him into my living room after finding him naked in the woods and had handed me some zip ties for my teen daughter and I to attempt to get onto his hands and feet. They had quickly exited. That was not a pleasant task. I called the mental health help line and the hospital but they could offer no help. My husband was on a camping trip with three of our adult sons in Eastern Oregon and headed home as fast as he could--90 miles. That was the longest 6 hours I've ever spent. He never stopped shrieking and cussing and threatening. And I had to keep such a close eye on him as he's a brittle diabetic and prone to seizures. I got quite creative that night. I honestly don't know how single parents do it with a large number of mentally ill children.

    It was someone's birthday and most of the children were quite young so I sang. I have a remarkably horrid voice but I just sang every old Baptist hymn I could think of to try to settle the younger ones and to keep my sanity. "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" helped me make it through the night. IIRC, I was having personal words with Jesus.

    Crises of this level happened probably over 100 times with this single child. Every time it would happen, it would be a new round of battles to get him life-flighted up to Portland and hospitalized in a behavioral unit. They'd only keep him two weeks and then it would start again. The local hospitals refused to accept him as he was so violent and there are no residential treatment facilities in our state which also accepted physically ill children. He finally ended up being one of the eight children to live at the old Oregon State Hospital. He was strapped in a wheelchair with his hands restrained so he couldn't pull out his central lines, bite himself or attempt suicide. He earned free minutes each day by respecting his body. I drove the 250 miles north every Tuesday to sit and read to him. It was slow going but after 9 months he came around and came home. He had another 10 month stay there after a series of ever lethal suicide attempts following his rape. He was so vulnerable and reactive. The ambulance or the police were always at our house as we always felt it best to have professionals present at times like this, even if they could do little. The bottom line is that mental health care for children and teens in this country is abysmal. We desperately need wrap-around services which are open on the weekend and holidays (shocking, I know).

    As to that son? He's now 24, has a part time job, is a total dear and remembers to call his Mom. He's as tender and gentle as can be. Man, he was a tough one. But we knew that when he came. He was a very hurt child. He made me a stronger woman. As tough as it was on us, imagine what it was like for him.

  7. #7
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    JBean--Will he wear a necklace or a bracelet? He really really needs to. He also should be registered with LE as having a special medical need. If he isn't, it's only a matter of time until he gets treated like a drunk or whacked out person and that's not fair. I'm registered with my seizures as I scream and am combative. It's far better to have the EMTs knowing what they are getting into BEFORE the crisis.

    I remember an EMT telling me once that they get more banged up by responding to people with diabetes and epilepsy than with any other disorder. There's some really cool looking dog-tag style necklaces. EMTs know to look. That's what my son wears. I have a dainty little bracelet which I've "embellished" a bit.

    Poor guy. My heart goes out to him. Seizures suck!!

  8. #8
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    Thursday was the 15th time police had been called to the Johnson household this year.

    Results of the autopsy are still pending.

    The two Officers who responded to the call were trained in crisis intervention. The training was developed with the help of the Philadelphia Department Of Behavoiral Health And Mental Retardations Services.

    This is just so unbelievably sad all the way around. So sad for this young man's family. So sad for the police officer's who responded. These were Officer's who voluteered for these courses who wanted to help.

  9. #9
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    In re-reading our posts here, I realized that I missed a major issue. Tasers can cause those with heart anomalies to have heart attacks and they can also cause seizures. Seizures have even been brought on in those WITHOUT seizure disorder as explained in the following article, where a non-epileptic LEO was accidentally tased and had a seizure:

    http://tvnz.co.nz/health-news/tasers...report-2555308

    http://news.scotsman.com/health/Epil...ice.6049120.jp (Scotland warns their law officers)

    For more horror stories just google~tasers epilepsy~and you will be appalled. The irony is that so many people who have seizure disorders can act in an aggressive or delusional manner. They exhibit an extremely strong "fight or flight reflex". I'm a tiny little thing but my family swears that I become a fighting, screaming, biting wolverine during my frequent seizures. I have no memory of any seizure and wake up hours later banged up and bruised. I'm always so remorseful for the agony I've caused my loved ones.

    This is expressly why people with seizure disorder should make it known to one and all that they have this disorder. One can register with their local LE, post a note near the front door, and wear some form of medic-alert jewelry. It could save your life. If family or friends are present when an altercation or incident occurs, the first thing said should be "this person has a seizure disorder (or other health problem)!!". LE should always be trained to consider that possibility when someone is acting drunk or delusional. There's just too much heartache all around, if these safety steps are not followed.

    I noticed in the article about this young man that he is described as being mentally ill and ID (Intellectually Disabled, the new description for MR). Many many people with these dual diagnoses also have health problems--heart issues and seizures being at the forefront as typically the frontal lobe of the brain has some damage. It almost seems a paradox but in my experience, those with the greatest behavior issues seem to be larger people. Our adult children who seem to be the most compliant and pleasant to deal with are extremely small or petite. The ones who are or who have been aggressive are much larger. I've always wondered if hormones--growth and testosterone--might be out of whack for some with dual diagnoses.

    Therefore, it would stand to reason that another form of restraint or sedation is really called for in situations like this. I can't imagine being the officers who tased this young guy. They most likely were following protocol and now they have to deal with the grief of an unnecessary death.

    Once again, I cannot over-emphasize the desperate but unmet needs for our population with mental illness. They deserve fair and caring treatment and families require more support. For so many, the quality of life is simply abysmal. It's like spending your days and nights on a roller coaster with not a seconds rest.

  10. #10
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    Izzy, these poor people and by that I mean the grandmom of this young man. There's also a brother with similar problems. The grandmom had her hands full.

    The police would take the young man to a mental health hospital and they'd keep him the proverbial 48 hours and release him.

    It's no exaggeration that the police were being constantly called to this home. The young man was combative alot of the time. Other times he would be seen just riding his bicycle into cars. Him and the brother were always out and about just living life non combative, but he could be extremely aggressive.


  11. #11
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    Filly, I totally get it. It was exactly the same for us. We sometimes had the police up at our house 4-5 times a day. A day. We used to kid them that they needed to put a kiosk in front of our house.

    The sad thing is that there are so few services. People with this level of disability really need to be in a secure environment but the waiting lists can be years long and are only accessed after tremendous crisis. As an example, our son first went to the State Hospital after breaking my pelvis.

    Most of the in-home support services, respite services, and day care type facilities have all been shut down. Families are teetering. Most people with this level of disability can't work but must be supervised. How's a parent supposed to work when the son is ripping up the house, running in traffic, and doing God knows what? There are meds but first you have to have insurance and then you have to closely monitor that they are taken appropriately. We don't want people knocked out all day. We want some quality of life.

    There are no answers right now. Sadly, so much mental health intervention has fallen onto the already over-worked LEOs and EMTs. Bless there hearts as most of the time they do their best. But they are not psychiatrists. IMO, we're asking too much of them.

  12. #12
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    Filly--To be clear, the young man who died was legally an adult (18) and the son I've been speaking of was a child at the time of his similar behaviors. Plus, I don't think our police had tasers ten years ago. I'm honestly not sure if they'd have tased him then if they did or if he was over 18 and exhibited the same behaviors.

    I know that when our son was suicidal one time, at the age of 20, I volunteered to get assaulted just to get him hospitalized. He was threatening to inject an entire bottle of insulin and wouldn't give it to police. He'd already pulled that trick a couple of years earlier and it was a mess. There was some legal reason they couldn't just tackle them and I didn't want him facing charges of assaulting a LEO. We regrouped and then I confronted him and got in his face (with an officer directly behind me to catch my fall--he dropped me in the mud LOL but was most apologetic). A shove was all it took. 72 hour hold and removal of the bottle of insulin.

  13. #13
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    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/09/t...-accelerating/

    Analysis: Taser-related deaths in US accelerating

    September 5, 2010

    "....A 2008 report [see link below] from Amnesty International found 351 Taser-related deaths in the US between June, 2001 and August, 2008, a rate of just slightly above four deaths per month.

    A database of Taser-related deaths maintained at the African-American issues blog Electronic Village counts 96 deaths related to the use of Tasers since January, 2009.

    Assuming the statistics are correct, that indicates the death rate has increased to an average of five per month...."

    and

    "...."Medical studies so far on the effects of Tasers have either been limited in scope or unduly influenced by the weapons' primary manufacturer," the group [Amnesty International] states.

    "Given the unresolved safety concerns, Amnesty International recommends that police departments either suspend the use of Tasers and stun guns pending further safety research or limit their use to situations where officers would otherwise be justified in resorting to firearms," Amnesty says...."

    more at link


    http://www.amnestyusa.org/uploads/ListOfDeaths.pdf

    LIST OF DEATHS FOLLOWING USE OF STUN WEAPONS IN US LAW ENFORCEMENT
    JUNE 2001 TO 31 AUGUST 2008





    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2018303/posts

    Was epileptic teen tasered 12 times by cops?

    "...."She tried to tell them their officers needed some training on what to do with epileptic seizures and postictal psychosis, but they just blew her off....Postictal psychosis following a seizure may include delusions, depressive or manic behavior, aggression or bizarre thoughts and behavior.”

    Note by me: If every single LEO doesn't know what postictal psychosis is, they need to learn now. If I had an officer try to restrain me, I'm certain that I'd get tased!! Tasers deliver an electric shock which changes the neuro charges in the brain. Anyone with a neurological "difference" or disability is going to overreact to any extra shock or startle, especially if you add in stress or heightened emotional response.

    I have seizures simply do a change of light in the bedroom or the feel of water on my hand or touching a different surface or an overreaction to seeing someone I love. It's called neuroexcitability and a taser would horribly exacerbate that.

    Being that Alzheimer's and fronto-temporal lobe dementia diagnoses are growing by leaps and bounds as Baby Boomers age, and most definitely affect the neuro and CNS system, we've all got to be on this.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/06...teic_tasering/

    Texas cops taser diabetic seizure man

    'We just took care of him'



    NOT OK So, what's the answer?

  14. #14
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    An article about a study being done to see why some people who are tased live and some die. This also covers the situations where tasers should NOT be used. It seems ironic that the very situations where one would think a taser would be a safer alternative, they're not:

    http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/ar...22a8fce2a.html

    "..."All the evidence that's out there is very clear that multiple shocks with a Taser would be equivalent to Russian roulette," Cadena [of Amnesty Int.]said. "The studies that are out there haven't really explored the conditions that could exacerbate the situation."

    Those conditions include epilepsy, heart pacemakers, people on medication or who have medical conditions, the mentally ill and substance abusers, she said..."

    more at link


    http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2010/...being-non.html

    Killing The Mentally Ill

    "I'm afraid that any American with a heart condition, epilepsy or mental illness of any kind is going to have to start wearing a big sign saying "please don't tase me, it will probably kill me," so that police won't use their "alternative" to deadly force on you. (If you don't have health care or don't know if you have a heart condition, well, just drop to the ground and submit yourself to police every time you see one, just in case.)..."

    more at link

    And a gruesome story and photo of what can happen when a LEO shoots an epileptic teen in the head with a Taser:

    http://crooksandliars.com/logan-murp...14-yr-old-girl


    My heart goes out to both those who suffer from the consequences and to the LEOs who use the Tasers. We just need to start looking for other safer alternatives, IMO. In some behavioral units and psych wards, they use a form of netting to subdue and restrain people. Here's an interesting new development:

    [ame]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dazer_Laser[/ame]

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-20011548-71.html (note that this has a warning that the pulsating music and the light can cause illness--I'm not going to check this out)

    The irony here is that this laser would most likely set off seizures too. And then what do you do?



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