As part of a $100,000 personal injury settlement recently issued, all Aurora police officers will be required to undergo training on how to recognize and respond to people having seizures. The lawsuit that brought about this settlement involved an incident that occurred in December 2010, during which the family of a 54-year-old man called emergency police services when they noticed that the man appeared to be having a seizure. According to court documents, when the officers arrived at the family’s home, they found the man unresponsive and lying on the floor face down. Instead of checking the man’s vital signs, one of the responding officers proceeded to “forcibly drive his knee into the center of [the victim’s] back” while another officer seized the victim’s wrist and wrested it behind his back.
According to the victim’s lawyer, this unnecessary assault by police officers left the victim with a broken wrist and exacerbated back injuries. Furthermore, the officers’ flagrant lack of training, along with their dangerous instinct to respond to the situation with excessive force rather than to treat it as a medical emergency, is evidence of gross negligence and recklessness that resulted in the victim’s injuries, contended the plaintiff’s lawyer. As a result of this personal injury lawsuit, the victim’s family was awarded a $100,000 settlement (as the victim passed away last year due to unrelated causes), and the Aurora police must undergo seizure training.
The City Attorney, Charlie Richardson, who defended the Aurora police, stated that, although no one expects policemen to be paramedics, officials have been striving to improve seizure recognition and response training for some time and that the recent settlement was in line “with our wanting to do some training.”
Because symptoms of seizures can mirror those of intoxication by alcohol or drugs, the seizure training that Aurora police will receive will be focused on helping officers identify the differences between these two situations. The Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado has already started providing preliminary training to some Aurora officers.