Ontario Police officers justified in using force to restrain a man who was suffering diabetic issue

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Ontario Police officers were “justified” in using force and handcuffs to restrain a man who was suffering a diabetic issue, according to information delivered from Chief Michael Iwai during the Ontario City Council meeting on June 11. Furthermore, he said that although there were no charges brought against the man, at “a bare minimum,” they should have turned in a driver evaluation to Oregon Department of Transportation related to the man’s driver responsibilities.

“Irrespective of the medical condition, [OPD’s response on May 11] was predicated on reckless driving,” Iwai said.

He said three officers responded to a complaint of reckless driving through residential yards and another complaint of a crash at Body Shop Gym where the vehicle became high-centered, where it was pointed toward Southwest Fourth while still running with the gear in drive.

Police records indicate there were four responding officers, Sgt. J. Laurenson, and Officers R. Frazier, J. Cutler and T. Elizondo. Iwai said there were three responding officers and that Cutler was the third and “didn’t have to do much.” Iwai did not mention Elizondo’s role in the response.

The chief told the council that the primary responding officers were Frazier, who was first on scene, and Laurenson, who arrived second.

Iwai said the driver didn’t respond to verbal commands and “started jerking his arms rapidly leaning over toward Frazier,” who was on the passenger side of the vehicle with the door open. Iwai said Laurenson made his way to the driver side as Frazier continued “attempting contact” with the man.

The man did not respond to Frazier’s request to turn the vehicle off and put it in park, so Frazier leaned in and unfastened the driver’s seatbelt. Iwai said that when the man was jerking his arms, Frazier believed he was trying to get the vehicle into a different gear. However, upon reviewing the body cam footage, Iwai said it appeared the driver was just jerking his arms.

“He continued to moan and resist as officers attempted to assist him. Again inaudible,” he said.

The chief said Frazier went inside the cab of the truck to “basically push him out toward the driver side door,” which Laurenson opened. They then “take him to the ground and place him in handcuffs.”

“Officers believe that he was impaired, and he was impaired, he was medically impaired, but he was thinking that he was alcohol impaired and when you watch the video, you can see Officer Frazier say this multiple times,” Iwai told the council.

The driver remained mostly inaudible until medics arrived about 5 minutes and 3 seconds later, according to the chief. Officers requested medics within 90 seconds of placing the man in double handcuffs, a technique used to alleviate pressure to the shoulders.

“Other than on the ground face down, at no time was his airway obstructed,” Iwai said.

There was no knee on his back or neck, he said. Rather, the officers knee was “on the man’s upper left leg or buttocks for control.” Officers kept him on the ground “because he actively resisted,” according to Iwai.

“No officer sat on him, it was not like George Floyd,” he said addressing that comment in the letter.

He said officers helped the man stand up “at 4 minutes, 40 seconds,” also noting that within minutes of being facedown on the ground, he was tilted toward the right, no longer on his stomach, but on his side.

When medics arrived, the man’s blood sugar was low so he was given glucose.

The letter to the council and chief on May 14 questioned whether use of force was necessary, and Iwai said it was a custody technique used for physical restraint, with “no kicks and strikes, no less-than lethal rounds, no deadly force.”

As for OPD, diabetic shock is mentioned under officer observation and “use of force is justified,” but Iwai said it was done with “compassion and dignity.”

Iwai encouraged those with medical issues to carry first aid notifications on them, such as an ID bracelet.

As to officers laughing after the fact, the chief said the driver was already gone and they were laughing about trying to move the high-centered vehicle.

He said in his review, even though officers were “compassionate and professional, both used cuss words. I counseled them on ensuring we don’t cuss … it always looks bad when cops are cussing at someone else.” Iwai said he also counseled them on safety issues related to the running vehicle and where they were standing.

Laurenson’s report states that OPD received a report of a pickup driving through a residential lawn and leaving the scene. He said there was smoke emanating from the back end of the pickup when they arrived.

Laurenson said as he got to the driver door, he was prepared to use his baton to break the window if the man continued to ignore Fraziers orders. However, the door was unlocked, so he opened it instead.

He said the man was “acting irrationally and that Frazier was partially in the vehicle, so “I decided to extract [the man] from the vehicle for safety reasons.” The man was pulled out and landed on the grass before rolling onto the asphalt in a semi-prone position, according to the report, and Laurenson “held him by the back of the neck to prevent further injury until Ofc Frazier helped place him in a prone position.”

Once face down, Laurenson placed the man’s right arm in the small of his back. He said the man “was very tense and made groaning noises.” Laurenson told him he was under arrest and handcuffed him.

“I noticed [the man] had blood coming from his ears, the blood had ran down his ear lobes,” and later states that in reviewing body cam footage the driver “can be seen digging his finger into his left ear,” suspecting the man injured himself in doing so.

Laurenson’s report also notes the man “sustained minor injuries during his arrest, including scraped knees and minor scrapes on his nose and forehead.”

Frazier says during the interaction, the man “was not able to form sentences or communicate with us.

“He would growl, moan and become physically resistant to any action we took,” Frazier wrote, adding it was not immediately clear whether it was a medical issue or high levels of intoxication.

“He had an angry look on his face and appeared to have a lone gaze, as though he was looking straight past me.”

Frazier said once the man was on the ground, “his actions were strange, because he would do nothing and then suddenly flex [his] muscles and resist against us.”

Frazier said once the man was on the ground, and he was sitting on his legs, the man “attempted to kick to free himself and tried to get to his feet. He was unable to because I had his feet secure.”

Eventually they got the man upright and sat him on his tailgate to try to communicate with him.

The driver was still not responding to police and when medical staff arrived and gave him gel glucose, “within moments [his] facial expression softened, and he began talking with us.”

He denied consuming alcohol, telling police he was diabetic.

Unable to stabilize his blood sugar levels, medics transported the man via ground ambulance to Saint Alphonsus.

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ThisIsButter1 (10302.00)

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