Police in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, used a taser twice on a 78-year-old man having a diabetic fit while driving his car. The police department says the officer’s actions were justified as “police officers are not paramedics.”
According to the Daily Mail, a police officer was called to the scene of a BJ’s Wholesale Club following the erratic behavior of a man who had crashed into two parked cars in the parking lot. When police arrived, the 78-year-old driver was still in his vehicle, but was driving away from the scene. Officer Andre Wassouf shouted at the man to stop his vehicle. Even though the man’s window was rolled down, he did not respond to the officer’s calls to stop.
The man proceeded to crash into another parked car, then he put the car in reverse and crashed into the police cruiser. All the while, Officer Wassouf was yelling for the driver to stop his vehicle. After hitting the police cruiser, the police officer thought the man’s car was in park, so he reached into the car in an attempt to pull the man out of the vehicle. However, the car was not in park, but rather neutral. Therefore, as the officer tried to pull the 215 lb man out of the car, it continued to roll away. Again the officer asked the man to stop the vehicle and he did not respond.
Seacoast Online reports that Officer Wassouf says the man then reached into his passenger’s seat and the officer thought he may be reaching for a weapon. Therefore, he tased the driver twice to incapacitate him. The Portsmouth police chief says the taser allowed the officer the ability to take control of the dangerous situation.
“This allowed the officer to finally take control of the situation and get the driver into handcuffs.”
However, after gaining control of the man, firefighters observed that the driver was “weak.” It was determined that the man was diabetic and his blood sugar was low causing him to have the symptoms of drug or alcohol abuse. The man was not charged with any crimes and was released. The police department says the actions of the officer were justified as it was needed to end a “potentially dangerous situation.”
“Upon initial review, though the incident is regrettable for all involved, the officer appears to have used reasonable non-lethal force to end a potentially dangerous situation. Our police officers are not paramedics. They are charged with bringing dangerous situations under control. This driver could just as easily have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or engaging in willful criminal conduct.”