25 June 2010

Don't Taze My Granny; or, Hey ATW and Athanasius, Justify This

From Courthouse News via Drudgereport:

'Don't Taze My Granny!'


(CN) - 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.

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 Doe.


Don't worry, I'll help you out. This is just a lawsuit-- the plaintiffs' side only. I seriously doubt police would ever taze an unarmed old lady. Oh, wait... um, well:

Whew! I thought we had a problem, but clearly, she "had it coming."


ATW said...

Now you don't honestly expect me to justify this, do you? We've moved from minor traffic infractions, border crossing, and being uncooperative with authorities to calling on the government for help (always a dicey prospect at best) and being abused in your own home by the authorities. Obviously, based on the facts you've presented, there is no justification for the officers' actions.

The woman and her family are, however, using the courts for a redress of their grievances. That's how the system is supposed to work. They did not, based on the facts presented, try to combat the officers when their actions became unreasonable.

Once again, I state, based on the facts presented, there is no justification for what these officers did.


P.S. I laughed out loud when I saw that I was mentioned in the title of your post. Touche!

Prekast said...


I first thought this was another "Onion" spoof (re: shooting up the gun store story from a few weeks ago!) Then with the "Today" story, well....

By the sound of it, this could be the storyline for a new "Reno 911" episode.

thetimman said...

ATW, actually no, but you are kind of my hero in the realm of "taking a deep breath before hitting 'publish'."

I was going to give the topic a rest but saw this story and couldn't resist.

Dennis said...

The other side of the story:


According to the police report, Ms Varner was waving a knife around and alternately threatening to kill the officers, her grandson, and herself. I don't know if that justifies the use of a taser against an 86 year old woman, but I also don't see any better alternatives. Admittedly, it could be a failure of imagination on my part. Crazed suicidal/homicidal woman disarmed without lasting physical damage to anyone involved seems like a fairly decent outcome.

Mitch said...

Hmm... I don't like tazers.

Anonymous said...

"Are you a Catholic?" "Yes". "You believe abortion is wrong?" "Yes". "Stop loitering here praying outside this clinic." "Move on!" "No I am a 73 year old woman...." "I going to have to Tazer you!" "No I am not moving...." see where this is going? Does the State have the right to torture people into submission? Tasers are torture!

Anonymous said...

Oh perhaps this sort of behaviour flows from a mentality that uses violence of which abortion is one of the most extreme.

Anonymous said...


Nice research. I would have assumed that there was some sort of fact pattern like that out there. Of course, using a taser to disarm a bed-ridden octogenanriam still seems like overkill, FWIW. They should have just tried to shoot the knife out of her hand; that always works on TV. I keed, I keed.

paramedicgirl said...

Little old ladies can certainly be fiesty! They are not all sweet or harmless. I am surprised those two in your posts ended up getting the Tazer, though. Our cops in Canada have cut their Tazer use by one third in the past year, since so many deaths have resulted post Tazer use. True, I think all of the bad guys who got Tazed and later died were on crack or other stimulants and suffering from excited dilerium, which, combined with all that Taser electricity, just isn't good for the heart.

Our bleeding heart liberals here put pressure on the cops to not use the Tazer so much; now they will have to go back to using their guns, I guess. Go figure.