A Shake Down

by Anniel8/18/15

‘Middle aged Mentally Ill Woman Arrested after Attacking Officer. Admits Not Taking Meds’

That news item was played every hour for two days on Alaska Radio Stations. Talk shows devoted hours discussing the plight of the mentally ill and what can be done to make certain they take their meds as ordered, even if a judge has to make the doctor’s order official. It sounded like the woman was inflicting great harm to the officer and had to be handcuffed and placed in a cell for 12 hours. Bad, right?

Wrong. What the news should have said was: “100 pound woman arrested for having Parkinson’s Disease. Became upset when Officer grabbed her, threw her down, handcuffed her, and took away her purse with her Parkinson’s Medications. Locked up for 12 hours while begging for her meds.”

That is the true story. One of my sweet friend’s problems with Parkinson’s is that her voice becomes slurred, especially when she is upset. She got off the bus she was on and the driver decided she was acting “funny,” and called the police. When the cop approached her on the street she didn’t understand why and asked him not to touch her. He said she “shoved” him, and began “assaulting” him. Really? All 100 pounds of her? It had to be very frightening for him.

Having Parkinson’s does not mean one is mentally ill. Needing one’s meds and saying so should never have been reported in such a fashion.

Nothing that was reported was true. There, I got some of the anger off my chest.

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18 Responses to A Shake Down

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    When the cop approached her on the street she didn’t understand why and asked him not to touch her. He said she “shoved” him, and began “assaulting” him. Really? All 100 pounds of her? It had to be very frightening for him.

    I obviously wasn’t there. But was “asked him not to touch him” part of a screaming tirade of incoherent babble that officers sometimes have to deal with in the general public? Either the officer is a bit of a brute and over-reacted or part of this story isn’t being reported.

    And, yes, it’s unlikely that a 100-pound woman is going to do much damage to the officer. But from your description, it does seem that she attacked him. Was it really as simple of a picture as some lady calmly saying “Don’t touch me”?

    Yeah, maybe it’s a small injustice that the driver and officer thought that this woman was drunk or on drugs. But they see this all the time. It’s unworkable to try to order a society that is so fine-tuned that it can take into account one exception in a hundred thousand.

    A simple solution for this lady would be to wear a button that says “I’m not drunk, I have Parkinson’s.” If it’s that pronounced and your riding on public transit regularly where the police do run into all sorts of problems, that might not be a bad idea.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    This is one of those cases where we have a “he said, she said” situation. Did she in fact attack the officer (however ineffectually), or was he lying about that to justify a gross overreaction? We have no way of knowing unless someone has a video of the whole incident.

    My family has a hereditary condition (deterioration of the cerebellum) which, when I was younger, was referred to as Parkinson’s but apparently is actually something else. (My maternal grandfather, mother, brother, and sister all had/have it. So far there’s no sign that I will get it, and usually it shows up at a younger age, though it didn’t for my sister.) So I know something of the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      This is one of those cases where we have a “he said, she said” situation. Did she in fact attack the officer (however ineffectually), or was he lying about that to justify a gross overreaction? We have no way of knowing unless someone has a video of the whole incident.

      That’s well summed-up, Timothy. Perhaps Annie knows more of the details of that incident from a preponderance of witness testimony (if any). I mean, it’s possible this police officer way over-reacted. And it’s also possible this poor lady gave the officer real grief. Remember, any police officer is only a quarter of a second away from getting stabbed, shot, or stabbed with a dirty needle. And a hundred-pound woman is more than capable of inflicting damage, especially if she appears to be mentally ill or on drugs. That doesn’t excuse any disproportionate reaction. But “disproportionate” is very difficult for us civilians to understand when faced with some of these situations.

      That’s why you’ll never see (or never should see) a cop shoot to just wound. An assailant (especially one strung out on drugs) can be on them in a flash. Their reaction times regarding such things are surprisingly short. And we see that in that recent case where the hoodlum went for the cop’s gun and got what he deserved.

      But if this is a case of a bully cop (and they do exist), then that’s another thing. But I have no way of gauging that from afar…at least without more facts.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        But I have no way of gauging that from afar…at least without more facts.

        Although the source may not be perfect, I believe we do have one source which will give us a more correct idea of what happened than the newspaper. That source is Annie, and I trust her understanding of the woman, local police and general atmosphere of the scene than I do a newspaper’s or a policeman’s.

        But case’s like this are another reason to have cop-cams.

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Two lessons that people should take away from this.

    1) The Media lies or makes factual mistakes all the time. No single outlet can be trusted for the “news”.

    2) The police are not always your friends and I would guess they approach most situations with a negative attitude out of habit or experience.

    While I agree with Brad that it would be helpful to wear a button, I do not think it should exculpate the policeman’s actions. I do not see any indication that the lady was wielding a weapon of any kind. I do not read anywhere that she was a physical threat of any kind.

    There is a tendency in this country for the police to over-react to non-threatening situations with excessive force. Think little children who have been handcuffed, etc. And, Ferguson notwithstanding, there are plenty of real instances of police needlessly hurting people who did not deserve being hurt. I know it is not intelligent to smart off to a policeman, but that does not give a cop the right to physically abuse people.

    And I write all of this as one who is generally a friend of the police.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Mr. Kung, I can’t say that I have the lay of the land of this issue at hand. It’s unclear to me exactly what happened at the scene.

      But certainly it’s becoming common for the police to over-react. And they mix in with this under-reactions. There was this ridiculous case a few years ago of this (presumed) mentally ill man with a sword holding Seattle police at bay for hours. I think because he was black, they just shut down the district instead of tasering him or something.

      But it’s no secret that police departments have been militarizing themselves. And it seems that many cops are becoming argumentative. I’d like to walk a mile in their shoes first because I don’t know if this is because they’re all Progressive nuts bereft of a normal moral upbringing or if they are just worn down over time by the legions of vulgar, spiteful, hateful, pedantic, disrespectful, and decidedly dangerous people they run into on a daily basis.

      Yes, the police need to uphold professional standards. But one wonders what they face daily.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Note the recent case in Alabama of a policeman who, facing an assailant, hesitated to shoot because he was white, the attacker was black and “unarmed”, and he knew that if he shot the criminal he might easily become the next Darren Wilson or George Zimmerman with a life totally ruined. So the black thug grabbed the officer’s gun and pistol-whipped him — to the delight of black on-lookers (this could fit just as easily in Patricia Dickson’s article).

        It’s a very difficult job, requiring the police to be as firm as they need to be without ever going too far. Failure in either direction can be disastrous. Mistakes are inevitable. Whether they do as well as they should be able to do is impossible for us to say.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I just watched an interesting episode of season 2 of Blue Bloods that handled a police brutality issue: “Whistle Blower.” This one police-hating journalist edits a video to incriminate what turned out to be a justified act by the cop. (Shades of George Zimmerman).

          And Selleck gives a great speech to the cops in his official statement exonerating the accused officer. He said that you had to be aware that cameras were everywhere now. But you have a duty to come home safe and discharge your duties…no matter how it looks on film.

          Oh, too bad Selleck is just a fictional character. We need more guys like this.

  4. Anniel says:

    Gentlemen (!): I agree with everything you have said. What truly, dare I use the term?, pisses me off is that the police and the news have let the false impression of “mental illness” and the need for legal enforcement of doctor’s orders be the story. This whole matter should have been set straight as soon as the Stubborn Facts about my friend were known.

    Given her Parkinson’s induced speech problems, AND THE MENTAL FEARS AND SYMPTOMS FROM MISSING HER VITAL MEDICATIONS, I understand everyone’s confusion. But from what I understand, she got off the bus a few blocks from her normal stop in order to walk for a little exercise and the bus driver over-reacted. She couldn’t understand why the cop was grabbing her and started to cry because she was frightened. She is so thin an ID bracelet would fall right off her wrist and a necklace makes her feel choked. They took her purse away and must not have checked her ID. I can hear her now in the cell saying, “I haven’t taken my meds,” and being completely misunderstood.

    Another problem for PD people is that they need to eat certain types of foods, i.e. proteins or carbohydrates, at specified times in order to metabolize their meds properly. While she was in jail they gave her no food or drink for the 12 hours until her husband found her. In short, when he got there, she was a mess.

    I really do resent that the whole matter has not been set straight, apologies offered where due, and the public informed.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      A lot of the problem is that the police often simply don’t understand the various physical problems people suffer from. This also happened with Eric Garner, who couldn’t breathe on his stomach well. Better training is needed, but not every town can afford to train all their police to deal with every possible medical condition. On the other hand, failing to check her purse for ID and possible medications she needed, and failing to feed her for 12 hours, were indications of grossly negligent behavior.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      What business did the policeman have to assault her in the first place?

      Just because someone wobbles a little is not reason to grab them.

      You say the bus driver over-reacted, but what was it he was reacting too? Was it simply because she did not get off at her regular stop?

      In any case, she was clearly abused while in the jail cell as they did not check her ID and info in her purse. I would go after the police dept on this.

      • Anniel says:

        KFZ, it was raining, I don’t know how hard, and apparently the bus driver knew she had something wrong. He thought getting wet might not be good for her. As I said, I just hate to see the impression that has been left with the public.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          So are you, in general, framing this as an “afraid of the unknown other” situation? Is the take-away you see from this news story (so far) that those who have health issues are being stigmatized as criminals or those to be feared?

          Certainly there have been stigmas against the mentally ill…not always without some good cause. The over-reaction has even got to the point that they are forcing the mentally ill out of institutions and into the street where they indeed often go without receiving help or their medications. But this suits the generally liberal attitude that they’re just iconoclasts or something…another victim group.

          Geez, I don’t know about all this. On the one hand, it’s not wrong to be afraid of those who are sick or mentally ill. It’s a good and natural reaction to protect oneself. On the other hand, we must also learn to distinguish between illnesses that are dangerous to us and those that are merely superficially a bit strange or ugly.

          Certainly I think I kinda know the general subject you may be hitting on. There is this lady who lives directly across the street from my office. And she is deaf and certainly at least more than a bit mentally handicapped (or just “different,” if you will…she spends much of her time sweeping the streets). I’m her ears whenever she needs to make a phone call to get her cable fixed or something, which is not all that infrequent. But she also looks after our place and lets me know if there have been strangers about. I deal with her. I don’t look down on her nor do I condescend to the conceit that we are equal. She is indeed different in many ways, but due no less respect.

          And yet I’ve heard little but put-downs about her from other neighbors and even family members who live in the area. I think, “Jesus H. Christ. Hasn’t this woman enough problems without you making fun of her?” Apparently not.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Given her Parkinson’s induced speech problems, AND THE MENTAL FEARS AND SYMPTOMS FROM MISSING HER VITAL MEDICATIONS, I understand everyone’s confusion. But from what I understand, she got off the bus a few blocks from her normal stop in order to walk for a little exercise and the bus driver over-reacted.

      Maybe “free range” adults are now being outlawed. I suppose the time would come soon enough.

      • Anniel says:

        My sweet friend can no longer be free range. Her husband decided she needs more care than he can give and decided to find a care-facility near her relatives Outside. Her 85 year old father has come to help get her settled in her new home. It is probably for the best, but we will all miss her.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    There was a tremendous explosion a quarter mile or so from my office last night. I didn’t know what it was. I thought maybe someone down the street set off some dynamite. It turns out that there was a gas leak at a Motel 6 and it blew up. According to a reporter I talked to this morning (the news agencies were still surrounding the aftermath), two people are missing. But they apparently were able to evacuate the place before it blew. One Cascade Natural Gas worker apparently had some second and third degrees burns.

    What a mess. And a friend of mine, who is a retired electrical engineer and fabricator, said he had been down to this motel recently in passing and noticed that the renovations of the electrical work and such seemed to be subpar, at best. And the workers were all Mexicans who couldn’t speak a word of English. We’ll see if that was a contributing factor, but don’t hold your breath on anyone reporting it if it was.

    Anyway, that was a little excitement last night. I walked down after I heard the explosion and got there before most of the streets had been blocked off. And I went down there again this morning on the way to work. And I was able to wander a bit closer to look at the aftermath. About one quarter of the building blew up and was reduced to rubble. And with most of the danger past, there were still at least thirty or so firemen, police, and other personnel on the scene. Hey, I was a lookie-loo so I guess I can’t blame them for standing around doing nothing. But such events are indeed exciting and this is no less so for various city employees.

    Anyway, to relate this to the topic at hand, I walked down to the site of the explosion this morning and found a spot at a respectable distance. And then some cop comes over and in the rudest possible manner says, “What’s your business here?” And I told him I worked nearby, heard the explosion last night, and wanted to see what had happened. But the tone and tenor of this police officer had “arrogant asshole” written all over it. He was wound up ready to fight. A simple, “Sir, could you stand back there a little” was all that was required.

    So I don’t know what they are feeding some of these cops these days. But this guy had an attitude. And if he had so much to give me merely regarding where I was standing, imagine if it were some more serious business. It’s hard to imagine this guy not coming unglued. So, again, I wonder where the “Serve and protect” aspect has gone. I know they put up with a lot of crap from the public. But officers such as that don’t inspire much confidence. Do departments go out of their way now to hire sourpusses? The “us vs. them” mentality is likely more predominant than we realize.

    Perhaps these are the wages being paid because of the influence of the Left which hates and distrusts cops as a matter of course. And these attitudes of “the pig” are another legacy of the red diaper doper hippie generation. And I still insist, nothing good came out of the hippie generation.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I think your last paragraph may be very important. Especially in very liberal communities, the police are under a great deal of pressure. If they stop a black thug, they face a grave personal danger; but if they don’t, they face a different grave personal danger. The result is that you have bad police-community relations (for whatever cause) spiraling down to steadily worse relations.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        That’s the thing. Where I live (knock on wood), it’s a very peaceful area. Thanks to libertarians and other liberals, crime and drugs are becoming a bigger problem. But generally the only pervasive effect is that of unruly sailors. I do not live in Ferguson by any means.

        I remember one of the first speeding tickets I ever got, and it was in this same city. The police officer all but apologized for having to give it to me. A couple years later, we became friends through a band that he, my older brother, and another friend were in…a bluegrass band. The police officer played a mean banjo. I wonder if he still does.

        Anyway, I recounted the event to him at the time. And he was all apologetic again. “I really gave you a ticket? Oh, wow, I’m sorry about that.” And I told him he was polite and professional and that I was indeed in the wrong. And it was sort of a running joke from there. Haven’t seen him in years though.

        I don’t know what pressures the police are under. But I suspect part of it is that the moral underpinning is missing. I just don’t think many of these guys — in all walks of life, not just law enforcement — are particularly decent people anymore. As Dennis Prager says about the influence of the Left, “Some people may be nice, but they’re not good.”

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