Diabetic Driver Claims Police Pulled Him Over During Diabetic Emergency and Tasered Him Seven Times

A federal lawsuit has been filed against Hamilton County (Ohio) Sheriff deputies by John Harmon, a diabetic who was suffering from dangerously low sugar levels when he was allegedly tasered and “violently dragged from the vehicle, thrown on the ground, kicked in the head by a boot, and stomped mercilessly while lying on his back.”

Harmon says he was experiencing a medical emergency when he was pulled over. An African American, he suggests that he was driving through a white neighborhood.

Accused in the October 2009 incident are four officers. Harmon says he was pulled over for weaving and Patrol Officer Ryan Wolf “approached Harmon’s vehicle with his gun drawn along with a second patrol officer, Matthew Wissel.” Harmon alleges that Wolf shattered his driver side window without giving him an opportunity to comply with his order to get out of the vehicle. He says that he was tasered by Wissel and pulled by the officers, including Officer John Haynes from the vehicle. Wissel cut Harmon’s seatbelt to get him out and Harmon claims he was “violently dragged from the vehicle, thrown on the ground, kicked in the head by a boot, and stomped mercilessly while lying on his back. In the process, Harmon suffered numerous injuries, including a severely dislocated elbow and trauma to his shoulder and thumb. During the course of these events, which lasted approximately two minutes and twenty seconds, he was Tased seven times.”

In all, he claims to have been tasered seven times. When an officer arrived at the scene and saw his diabetic kit, he was asked if he was a diabetic and the officers then called paramedics. It was later confirmed that Harmon’s blood sugar was dangerously low.

This complaint also includes an allegation that, at the hospital, Patrol Officer Shawn Cox refused to let Harmon use the bathroom, which forced him to urinate on himself. He was then charged with “(1) failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer; (2) resisting arrest; (3) operating his vehicle with only one headlight; and (4) failure to drive in a marked lane.”

I expect that the police will argue that the low blood sugar might have been the result of the physical trauma and stress of the arrest. Strenuous exercise can sometimes pose a danger for diabetics. Thus, they could claim that the weaving was not the result of diabetes and that the low sugar was the result of the arrest. Even with the diabetes, weaving would be a legitimate basis to pull over the car, but the response to a person going into diabetic shock would not normally include repeated tasers.

They would still have to address the need for such extreme levels of force. Of course, there are at least five officers who will be available to testify as witnesses for the county and there is no indication of a dashcam video, which probably would not show the action in the interior of Harmon’s car anyway. However, it would show how quickly the police resorted to smashing the window and using the first taser.

Source: Courthouse

Jonathan Turley

36 thoughts on “Diabetic Driver Claims Police Pulled Him Over During Diabetic Emergency and Tasered Him Seven Times”

  1. You’re right on that ChaZ because your perspective does not consider the Law or medical details about any driving diabetic. But, I am sure that there are many of you types like that. But, thanks for expressing your perspective anyways and who knows, maybe someone might think you are correct. Merry Christmas too. πŸ™‚

  2. ChaZ,

    As the son of a diabetic, I’d have no issue with that or with annotating the tags of diabetic drivers in the system. It works to everyone’s safety and benefit.

  3. A diabetic male forgot to take his medication and he went wrong way on a highway that I was riding on with a friend. There was a terrible accident involving 4 cars.

    We were all lucky that no one have been injured seriously or died.

    To be quite honest, if people who knows they are diabetic and are having diabetic-related emergencies, they should NOT be driving at all. They should pull off road immediately and use their medication or call 911.

    People who knows that they could be danger to others when severely incapacitated have no excuse for continuing to operate dangerous machinery on roads.

    Police, even though they may be trained to identify signs of diabetic behavior, will always have hard time to tell the difference between drunk people and diabetic people who are low on their sugar. Wouldn’t it make sense to have all diabetic drivers put a special kind of stickers or license plate to identify them as at-risk driver? If you see one that’s weaving around, we all can call 911 to report diabetic drivers in distress instead of drunk drivers and police could have responded better.

    Just my thoughts. I’m sure most of you will not agree with it.

  4. eniobob,

    In a truly right world, the Chiefs win every game. πŸ˜‰

    But I kid!

    Everyone knows in a truly right world, the Raiders always loose.

  5. “β€œfrank
    But the taser is non-lethal so its all OK, right?”

    That could best be answered by the person on the receiving end,and I don’t think that they would agree with that statement.

  6. “The Bears then play the Jets on the 26th. All is right with the world.”

    That’s assuming Professor that My J-E-T-S,Jets,Jets,Jets win the game correct?:=)

  7. michellefrommadison, Frank’s statement:

    “frank
    But the taser is non-lethal so its all OK, right?”

    was the use of sarcasm to make a point, one in agreement with yours actually, sarcasm works that way. Pete was helping clarify Franks statement. We’re laughing with each other (at least on this thread), not at each other. Lighten up, it’s Christmas πŸ™‚

  8. michellefrommadison, Franks humor aside, you’re not going to find taser fans on this blog. If you plug ‘taser’ into the search box at the upper right you’ll find a multitude of postings from the Professor on taser’s and a dearth of support thereof in the comments.

  9. Facts about this issue do scare some people like yourself Pete, but thanks much for proving my point.

  10. Well-trained officers are taught that individuals suffering from diabetes are often symptomatic of signs often interpreted as under the influence of alcohol or drugs, when infact it is simply signs of hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia with no alcohol or drugs involved at all. It’s just amazing how well police have been able to manage things for so long before the invention of the taser. Hope he gets a severe penalty to send a message throughout the taser-using community.

  11. Welcome back to God’s Country Professor.
    What will it take for the authorities to rein in these felonious policemen? How many tasered and beaten victims are going to suffer before the police actually police themselves?

  12. From the postings, you can tell that we arrived in Chicago and we have a signal for blogging! Molly, our dog, is in heaven after finding a Bernese Mountain dog named Roxie next door — though they spent the night calling to each other. We are expecting a White Christmas in Chicago. The Bears then play the Jets on the 26th. All is right with the world.

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