El Reno Police Chief Responds to Taser Criticism

Thursday, December 11th 2008, 12:57 am
By: News 9

By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9

EL RENO, Okla. -- A video showing a man in diabetic shock being tasered by police has ignited criticism and threats against the El Reno Police Department.

El Reno Police Chief Ken Brown has received messages and emails calling for a formal apology, his resignation and more training for his officers.

The reactions all stem from a video showing an El Reno officer wrestling a suspected drunk-driver out of his truck. Moments later, you can hear the man being tasered. It took two police officers and one deputy to get the combative man into custody, but what they didn't realize was the man was not drunk or on drugs. The 53-year old was having a diabetic seizure and had a dangerously low blood sugar.

Click here to see the original story and the video of the officers apprehending the suspected drunk-driver.

"All those actions were consistent with the report of a drunk driver," Chief Brown said.

Patients who go into a diabetic shock are often aggressive and disoriented, but Chief Brown said his officers had no way of knowing what was really wrong. The man's medical alert necklace was hidden under layers of clothing and wasn't discovered until after he was rushed to a hospital.

"After reviewing the video and speaking with the officers, I do not find they did anything inappropriate or out of line," Chief Brown said.

Even doctors agreed it's almost impossible to tell the difference between an intoxicated person and someone who's having a diabetic attack.

The chief, whose own father is diabetic, stands by the decision to use a taser. He said the officer had to act quickly in order to clear a busy and dangerous interstate.

The chief said to help prevent this from happening again, he may to talk to lawmakers about giving diabetic patients a chance to indicate their medical status by adding something to their license plates. He's also looking into the idea of giving medical alert stickers for diabetics to post onto their windshield for others to see.

The chief said his department has received a number of calls from medical experts offering additional training for officers, which is another idea he is also open to.