ARRESTED FOR HAVING EPILEPSY

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In January of this year, in Connecticut, Robert Marzullo was driving in his car with his sister when he had a seizure and ran into a curb. When the police arrived, he was “slumped over the steering wheel.” The police “gave him to the count of three” to exit the car and then fired a taser into Marzullo’s arm. His sister screamed that Marzullo is epileptic and the officer said, “I know.” The officers claimed that Marzullo still resisted arrest (1).

In Indianapolis, 2013, Randy Lynn had just finished helping his sister clear snow from a sidewalk and he was walking home when he had a seizure. Police saw him and mistook the seizure for being intoxicated. They wrestled to put him into handcuffs, shocked him with a taser and hit him on the head three times (2).

These, sadly, are not uncommon stories. I told a story recently of Mrs. R, also in Michigan, who had a seizure and was pulled out of the window of her car and Mr. B in Colorado who was arrested while having a seizure in his own home (3).

What do we have to do to get police the training they need to recognize epilepsy? How many people have to be beaten and tased before police recognize that we are not a threat to anyone?

In 2006, Daniel Beloungea was walking home in Pontiac Michigan when he had a seizure. His actions were mistaken for public masturbation and when he was unresponsive to questions, he was tased, beaten with a baton, handcuffed and put into a police car. When the case went to court he was found not guilty by reason of insanity and still spent twenty days in a criminal mental facility (4).

I don’t think I am asking for miracles here. There are a lot of us out there and all we are asking for is to not be beaten up if we have the misfortune to have a seizure. Maybe police would be a little more sensitive to this if they woke up one day and started falling down.

1 – http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20140126/epileptic-man-files-suit-against-hamden-police-over-use-of-taser
2 – http://fox59.com/2013/02/05/epileptic-man-sues-city-for-arrest-during-seizure/#axzz349AvIsOr
3 – http://www.fallingdownfunny.com/2013/11/25/dont-have-a-seizure-in-michigan/
4 – http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=2675812

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