Courthouse News Service
June 25, 2010
Police Tasered an 86-year-old disabled grandma in her bed and stepped on her oxygen hose until she couldn’t breathe, after her grandson called 911 seeking medical assistance, the woman and her grandson claim in Oklahoma City Federal Court. Though the grandson said, “Don’t Taze my granny!” an El Reno police officer told another cop to “Taser her!” and wrote in his police report that he did so because the old woman “took a more aggressive posture in her bed,” according to the complaint.
Lonnie Tinsley claims that he called 911 after he went to check on his grandmother, whom he found in her bed, “connected to a portable oxygen concentrator with a long hose.” She is “in marginal health, [and] takes several prescribed medications daily,” and “was unable to tell him exactly when she had taken her meds,” so, Tinsley says, he called 911 “to ask for an emergency medical technician to come to her apartment to evaluate her.”
In response, “as many as ten El Reno police” officers “pushed their way through the door,” according to the complaint.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
The grandma, Lona Varner, “told them to get out of her apartment.”
The remarkable complaint continues: “Instead, the apparent leader of the police [defendant Thomas Duran] instructed another policeman to ‘Taser her!’ He stated in his report that the 86 year-old plaintiff ‘took a more aggressive posture in her bed,’ and that he was fearful for his safety and the safety of others.
“Lonnie Tinsley told them, ‘Don’t taze my Granny!’ to which they responded that they would Taser him; instead, they pulled him out of her apartment, took him down to the floor, handcuffed him and placed him in the back of a police car.
“The police then proceeded to approach Ms. Varner in her bed and stepped on her oxygen hose until she began to suffer oxygen deprivation.
“The police then fired a Taser at her and only one wire struck her, in the left arm; the police then fired a second Taser, striking her to the right and left of the midline of her upper chest and applied high voltage, causing burns to her chest, extreme pain and to pass out.
“The police then grabbed Ms. Varner by her forearms and jerked hands together, causing her soft flesh to tear and bleed on her bed; they then handcuffed her.
“The police freed Lonnie Tinsley from his incarceration in the back of the police car and permitted him to accompany the ambulance with his grandmother.”
Tinsley says the cops capped it all off by having his grandmother “placed in the psychiatric ward at the direction of the El Reno police; she was held there for six days and released.”
“As a result of the wrongful arrest and detention, the plaintiff Lona M. Varner suffered the unlawful restraint of her freedom, bodily injury, assault, battery, the trashing of her apartment, humiliation, loss of personal dignity, infliction of emotional distress and medical bills.”
They seek punitive damages for constitutional violations, from the City of El Reno, Duran, Officers Frank Tinga and Joseph Sandberg, and 10 Officers Does.
They are represented by Brian Dell of Oklahoma City.
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