Source: D. Holt

Alzheimer’s sufferer, Peter Russel From Epworth , Lincoln-shire UK, was shot with a Taser weapon several times because he refused to go into care. As reported in The Telegraph and on the local Calendar News TV, the 58 year old man had refused to go into care after being sectioned under the mental health act. Police said that after being tasered, he ripped the barbed darts out and three officers restrained him until three more officers arrived. Two officers received minor injuries during the incident in March this year.

More than two months later Mr Russell is receiving psychiatric treatment and his wife is still traumatized after what Mrs Russell called a “needless ordeal”.

The police were called to assist after a call from a doctor, Mr Russell then became agitated when police arrived. “He was fighting them off because he didn’t want to go to hospital. “He was petrified and scared,” Mrs Russell said. “I remember saying, ‘It’s the Alzheimer’s’”.

Sarah Moody from the Alzheimer’s Society said “The Alzheimer’s Society is very alarmed at the use of a taser gun on a vulnerable person with early onset dementia, which must have been a particularly distressing experience for the gentleman concerned. People with dementia can sometimes exhibit extreme agitation which can be difficult to understand and cope with for those who encounter it. This unfortunate incident illustrates a lack of understanding in society of dementia and the best way to support and help people who are affected by this devastating condition.”

Chief Superintendent David Hilditch if Humberside Police said ”Our police officers and PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers) have a variety of difficult situations to deal with on a day-to-day basis and are trained to tackle a variety of different situations. It’s very sad that this gentleman had to be restrained through the use of a taser, but the officers were faced with a significant level of violence. It is to their credit that they successfully restrained the 58-year-old man without injury to himself and took him to a place of safety to be treated.”

Why call police to a psychiatric patient transfer?

Alzheimer’s sufferers experience symptoms such as poor or decreased judgment, changes in personality and behavior, problems with memory and language, and disorientation with place and time. Having to endure a troop of uniformed officers restraining and tasering him must have been a terrible ordeal. Mr Russell was no doubt scared, and as a natural reaction to aggression he tried to fight off those he saw as his aggressors.

The question that must be asked is why a psychiatric doctor felt it was necessary to call the police in the first place? Why not just sedate him? The police are not trained to deal with psychiatric patients, and so resort to the kind of reaction they are trained to do in the event of a violent incident. In this case they tasered the patient – he was probably lucky he was not sprayed with CS gas. It is another example of the poor state of care for dementia patients after the recent reports of care staff hitting patients. It seems that mental health care has still not progressed from the days of barbaric electric shock treatments and lobotomies.

Mrs Russell said that she would be making a formal complaint.