Police Taze Man During Diabetic Shock

Tuesday, December 9th 2008, 12:07 am
By: News 9

By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9

EL RENO, Oklahoma -- A local driver ended up on the wrong side of a police taser because a medical condition left him helpless.

El Reno police officers approached a vehicle that had spun-out on the interstate. Inside was a man who they thought was drunk or on drugs.

The man was wrestled out of his truck on Interstate 40 because he wasn't cooperating with police. Moments later police tazed the man.

After several attempts officers were finally able to get the combative man into custody. What they don't realize is the 53-year-old wasn't drunk or on drugs. He's was in severe diabetic shock. In fact, his blood sugar level at the time was 11.

"Eleven is pretty low blood sugar and he would not be able to process those commands coming from the officers," Dr. Mary Ann Bauman said.

Bauman said a person suffering from diabetic shock will often show signs or symptoms closely related to somebody who's intoxicated. That can include confusion, aggression, shaking, sweating and disorientation.

El Reno's police chief said his officers had no way of knowing the man who was resisting arrest was in need of medical attention.

"His actions, his demeanor, his lack to communicate led the officers to believe he was under the influence of intoxicants or narcotics," El Reno Police Chief Ken Brown said.

Brown said his officers are trained to spot the difference between an intoxicated individual and a diabetic patient.

In fact, a spokesman for the agency that certifies officers says its state law for all student officers to learn how to recognize and care for type I and type II diabetic patients.

However, not all situations are textbook scenarios.

Once police realized what was really happening, they called an ambulance and the man was rushed to the hospital. It was there police finally saw his medical alert necklace hidden under layers of clothing.

Another thing diabetics can do is place a visible note somewhere in the vehicle, like the dashboard or on the window that indicates medical history. It's also a good idea to place a similar note inside your wallet or purse next to your driver's license.