Woman says police abused her mentally ill son, police say man resisted arrest, kicked officer

pic By: ThisIsButter1 (9535.00) Views: 4464 Score: 0 Used: 0 Bookmark: 0 Shares: 56 Downloads: 15

A Johnson County woman says Clarksville police used unnecessary force when they arrested her mentally ill son in June.

Sherry Gschwend, who lives in London, about 14 miles east of Clarksville, said her son, Chad Nichols, has been held in the Johnson County jail since June 15 and was held in isolation for more than a month before she was able to see him.

Gschwend said her son has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and depression and has a long history of contacts with local police, including Clarksville officers. She said he was walking home the night of June 15 when officers saw him walking on the road and arrested him.

"He wasn't doing anything but trying to get home. They cuffed him and called him a 'm-fer' and tased him," she said.

Video of the arrest shows Nichols wrestling with the officers, some of whom he calls by name, for about four minutes. He asks them several times not to arrest him and not to hurt him. He tells the officers he's trying to get home and that someone is coming to get him, and he repeatedly says, "I didn't do nothing. I want to go home." Nichols cries for help when the stun gun is used but continues to struggle, at one point telling one of the officers "I'm sorry" over and over. When he is handcuffed, he tells the officers, "I forgive you."

The officers, who called Nichols by his first name, used stun guns on Nichols when he didn't comply with their orders and submit to arrest. He was eventually placed in handcuffs and put into a police vehicle while the officers waited for emergency medical personnel to arrive. Nichols was seen by an ambulance crew at the scene and then taken to jail.

Gschwend said her son suffered two black eyes, a "huge knot on his head" and cuts and scrapes during the arrest. She said the only photos of injuries to police officers she was able to obtain show a small cut or scratch on one officer's wrist.

Clarksville Police Chief Jeff Ross said his department would make available any reports on the arrest, but he couldn't comment on it or on Gschwend's allegations.

"The Police Department won't have any comment since it's still a pending court case," Ross said Thursday.

Gschwend provided copies of the police reports and photos she obtained from police. In an incident report, an officer says police were called to Crawford Street in Clarksville in response to a report of a man walking in the middle of the street and carrying a large knife. The report said Nichols "approached the officer in an aggressive manner and yelling at him." The report said Nichols refused to allow the officers to place him in handcuffs. Police reports didn't mention officers seeing Nichols with a knife.

Several officers struggled with Nichols, trying to place him on the ground and in handcuffs. One officer used an electronic stun gun, according to the report, but it had little effect. According to the report, the stun gun was used several times, and during the struggle Nichols kicked one of the officers near the base of his neck and on his chin.

"It appeared Mr. Nichols was under the influence and had an unnatural amount of strength," the report stated.

According to records in Johnson County Circuit Court, Nichols, 32, of London, is charged with second-degree battery, a Class D felony, and with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors. In Arkansas, a Class D felony is punishable by up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. He is being held in the Johnson County jail on $2,000 cash bond.

Nichols' case is on hold pending the results of a mental evaluation, with a hearing set for March 1.

In a motion asking for a mental evaluation, Nichols' attorney, Ernie Witt of Ozark, said Nichols received Social Security benefits due to mental disabilities after he suffered brain damage from a severe beating. Witt was in court Thursday, according to his office staff, and couldn't be reached for comment. Witt said in the motion that Nichols sees Counseling Associates of Clarksville for his disability and Social Security status, and for prescription updates and counseling as needed.

Witt also attached a report from CHI St. Vincent Infirmary in Little Rock, where Nichols was evaluated May 10. In that report, the medical staff indicated Nichols was voluntarily admitted from another facility because he was suffering from psychosis, and he was diagnosed at the hospital with schizophrenia and amphetamine abuse. He tested positive for amphetamine and for THC. According to the National Institutes of Health, THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the substance that's primarily responsible for the effects of marijuana on a person's mental state.

According to the hospital report, schizophrenia may cause disturbed or disorganized thinking, speech or behavior.

"People with schizophrenia have problems functioning in one or more areas of life," the report states. "People with schizophrenia are at increased risk for suicide, certain long-range (chronic) physical illnesses and unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and drug use."

The hospital report also indicated Nichols was "noncompliant with meds" and staying on his medications was essential.

Gschwend said the officers could have just gotten him out of the road if that was the problem that started the incident, but it escalated far beyond what she thinks was needed.

"I don't want him to get run over, but I don't want him to get beat up either," she said.

jbv62k Copy
ThisIsButter1 (9535.00)

Comments: 5 - Login to add and view comments

Be the first one to fix this item!