Video shows officer use taser on man at nursing home

Published: Dec. 22, 2016 at 4:20 PM CST
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Newly-released body-camera video captures the scene from March in which an undersheriff with the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office tased a 91-year-old man with Alzheimer's at a Minneapolis nursing home because the man wouldn't get in a car to go to the doctor.

We first told you about the incident after it happened in March. The Ottawa County Sheriff's Office has had it under investigation.

The original report from the incident is that the 91-year-old man was violent. But those who spoke with Eyewitness News Thursday after watching the video say they don't see it that way.

The entire video lasts 28 minutes; from the time officers arrive until after the man is is tased and he's taken out on a stretcher.

The video shows the man repeatedly refusing to leave for his doctor's visit, batting officers' hands away when they try to help him up, and in the end, making a run for it.

That's when we see an undersheriff tase him.

The 91-year-old man's family has asked us to protect his identity in the video. They say the handcuffs broke his wrist and they believe this incident weakened his heart and led to his death two months later.

The Ottawa County sheriff is out of the office this week and told us he was unavailable to speak on camera. He said he thinks the investigation is complete, but needs to check his reports.

Eyewitness News Personal Protection expert Joe Schillaci, a former law enforcement officer, offers his perspective on what happened. Schillaci used to be a supervisor with the Miami Police Department and has been through taser training.

"It's easy for us as citizens to sit back and watch that and be taken aback by that. It's difficult to watch," he says of the video.

But Schillaci says using the taser to subdue the man likely caused less harm than if there was a more physical confrontation with officers.

He says a physical confrontation with officers could have caused more serious injury.

"...It most definitely with his age, would have caused some pretty good injury," Schillaci says. "They deploy a taser and incapacitate him immediately."

Schillaci points out the verbal warnings against the man and that fact that an officer guided the man to the ground after the taser was fired as a couple points to indicate the officers were doing what they could to limit injuries.

Since the incident happened, a new administrator at the nursing facility put new policies in place to handle any situations that get out of hand. Some of those changes include more training for staff. This includes making sure no one ever has to respond to a situation alone.

The administrator did not comment on whether the officer went too far.


Minneapolis authorities investigating officer's use of force at nursing home

The Minneapolis Police Department says it's investigating an incident at a nursing home. The sheriff's office says a patient was being combative and would not comply with officers, so they used a taser to get the man under control.

The sheriff says a man at the nursing home had assaulted another resident and was resisting officers and they needed help getting the man into a van. Authorities say that's when there was a physical altercation and a deputy used the taser.

Police Chief Jon Strowig says they are still looking into what happened.

"There was forced used, and that's currently under investigation."

The man was then taken into mental protective custody to keep him from hurting himself or someone else and was taken to Salina Regional Health Center. Both the sheriff's office and the police department say it's still an ongoing investigation. The nursing home did not wish to comment. The sheriff says there is video of the incident, but will not be releasing it at this time.