Officer tases 78-year-old man during diabetic episode

After responding to reports of a man crashing into several cars just before noon Sunday in a Pourtsmouth, New Hampshire, parking lot, a police officer tased the man twice, not realizing that while he appeared to be uncooperative, he was actually having a medical emergency.

The 78-year-old driver, who’s name has not been released, is apparently a diabetic who was suffering from low blood sugar when he unintentionally ran into the cars, local media reported. When the officer arrived on the scene, he gave the driver numerous commands to stop, but not only did the driver not comply, he backed up into the officer’s patrol car as well.

The officer attempted to pull the man from his vehicle and told him he was under arrest, but the man still remained defiant. While the officer was struggling with the man, the driver leaned over and appeared to reach for something in the front seat of his car. At that point, the officer, fearing that the man was reaching for a weapon, tased the driver.

According to Deputy Police Chief Corey MacDonald, it wasn’t until after the driver was tased for a second time that the officer was able to gain control of the situation and place the driver in handcuffs.

A short time later, firefighters arrived, who first observed that the man appeared “weak” and subsequently determined the man had diabetes and was suffering from low blood sugar. The man was given treatment to immediately stabilize his blood sugar, then transported to a local hospital as a precautionary measure.

Diabetics suffering from abnormal blood sugar levels can sometimes become combative or angry, Fire Chief Steve Achilles pointed out. Because of this, responding to such situations can sometimes be “challenging,” Achilles said.

The driver was released from the hospital and will not face any charges since it was determined that he was suffering from a medical emergency, and authorities confirmed the damage to the vehicles was minor.

The incident remains under investigation, but MacDonald said he believes the officer acted appropriately.

“Our police officers are not paramedics,” MacDonald said. “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.”