The Bean Patch

Political commentary and satire, seasoned with personal experience, from the point-of-view of an ultra-conservative member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy and the Patriarchy to boot.

Location: Jasper, Georgia, United States

Conservative, Baptist, family man. Married for 13 years with 4 children. Accountant by trade. Bachelor's of Business Administration from Kennesaw State University in Marietta, GA, in 1996. Graduated Cherokee High School, Canton, GA in 1991. Live in Jasper, GA.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Am I The Only Person Who Sees The Problem Here?

I have some mixed emotions about this story. Right now, I'm between outraged and wondering if there is not more to the story.

(Bold below is my emphasis)


Father Tasered while holding newborn
Man says daughter injured when security guards downed him in hospital
The Associated Press

HOUSTON - In a confrontation captured on videotape, a hospital security guard fired a stun gun to stop a defiant father from taking home his newborn, sending both man and child crashing to the floor.

Now the man says the baby girl suffers from head trauma because she was dropped.
I’ve got to wonder what kind of moron would Tase an adult holding a baby,”
said George Kirkham, a former police officer and criminologist at Florida State University. “It doesn’t take rocket science to realize the baby is going to fall.”

The April 13 episode began when William Lewis, 30, said he and his wife felt mistreated by staff at the Woman’s Hospital of Texas so they decided to leave. Hospital employees told him doctors would not allow it, but Lewis picked up the baby and strode to a bank of elevators.
The elevators would not move because wristband sensors on each baby shut off the elevators if anyone takes an infant without permission.

Lewis, who gave the video to The Associated Press, said his daughter landed on her head, but it cannot be seen on the video. He said the baby continues to suffer ill effects from the fall.
“She shakes a lot and cries a lot,” Lewis said, noting doctors have performed several MRIs on the child, Karla. “She’s not real responsive. Something is definitely wrong with my daughter.”
It was not clear whether the baby received any electrical jolt.

Child Protective Services has custody of the baby because of a history of domestic violence between Lewis and his wife, Jacqueline Gray. The infant does not appear to be suffering any health problems from the fall, agency spokeswoman Estella Olguin said.

David Boling, an off-duty Houston police officer working security at the hospital, and another security guard can be seen on the surveillance video arriving at the elevators and trying to talk with Lewis. Lewis appears agitated as he walks around the elevators holding his daughter in his right arm.

Within 40 seconds of arriving, Boling is holding the Taser. He walks around Lewis and whispers to the other guard, who moves to Lewis’ right side.

About a minute later, Boling can be seen casually standing near Lewis, not looking in his direction, when he suddenly raises the Taser and fires it at Lewis, who was still holding his daughter.

Lewis drops to the floor. The other guard, who has not been identified, scoops up the baby and gives her to the child’s mother, who was standing nearby in a hospital gown.

The guard then pulls Lewis to his feet with his arms locked behind him. Lewis’ T-shirt has two holes under the left side of his chest where the Taser prongs hit him.
Lewis said he did not see the stun gun.

My wife said we want to leave and then he just Tasered me,” Lewis said. “He caused me to drop the child.”

In a statement, the hospital said Lewis was hostile and uncooperative toward staff members who were trying to find out his relationship to the infant when they saw him trying to leave. Neither Lewis or Gray had indicated they wanted a discharge, according to the statement.

“Mr. Lewis became verbally abusive by using vulgar expletives. When Mr. Lewis’ behavior became threatening, endangering the infant and employees, licensed law enforcement officers followed their professional standards to protect those involved,” the statement said.

Lewis was arrested and charged with endangering a child. A grand jury in May declined to indict him on that charge, but charged him with retaliation, accusing him of making threats against Boling.

Lewis also has been charged with a second count of retaliation alleging he made a threatening call to Boling at his home.

Lewis denies both charges. He said he is considering suing the hospital but has not filed any legal papers.

Houston police spokesman Gabe Ortiz said the department did not investigate the officer’s role, and he declined to elaborate. Boling did not immediately respond to a request for comment given to the police department.

Some 11,000 U.S. law enforcement agencies use Tasers, which some experts say are increasingly being used as a convenient labor-saving device to control uncooperative people.

“The Taser itself is a legitimate law-enforcement tool,” Kirkham said. “The problem is the abusive use of them. They’re supposed to be only used to protect yourself or another person from imminent aggression and physical harm. They’re overused now.”

In a nutshell, this man and woman appear to have been dissatisfied for some reason with the hospital. They wanted to leave. Husband takes baby to the elevator.

Now here is where I am in a quandry. I fully agree with hospital regulations concerning bracelets. Too many creeps are out there that will slip a baby out of a hospital. However, I am in full disagreement that a patient cannot discharge themselves from the hospital without "doctor consent".

I believe that if an officer is standing casually by a "belligerent" person, facing in another direction, that the case for the said suspect being "belligerent" is, well, suspect. Just how belligerent can a person be holding a newborn baby?

The jury refusing to indict Mr. Lewis with endangerment to his child also speaks volumes about this case.

Oh yeah, and let's not forget that the officer used the taser for the "protection of himself and others". Except the baby.

Sounds to me like the rent-a-cop had a new toy, was itching to use it, and seized an opportunity.

But to be fair, perhaps we are not hearing the whole story. But it is still undenial that only a moron would tase a person holding a newborn.


Blogger Badbeans said...

And who can take better care of a child whose parents do not have "permission" to leave the hospital other than Child Protective Services, aka the Government.

3:58 PM  
Blogger Wadical said...

The article did mention that it was an "off duty" Houston Police Officer, probably working a security side job in full uniform and with full law enforcement powers at his the term "rent a cop" is probably unfair.

I hate Monday Morning Quarterbacking a law enforcement officer's decision to use force. So much cannot be seen on video that the officer, who is right there, may be able to see...facial expressions, whispering, a tensing of the muscles in the arm which may have indicated the child was in immediate could speculate all day. I do agree that there is also not enough evidence presented (at least not in this article) to warrant the use of a Taser. I'm just saying that jumping on the bandwagon of assuming that the media gave a perfectly complete and objective viewpoint is not a good place to be.

The man had a history of violence toward his family...the nature of that violence was withheld in the article but more than likely was considered by the officers. Perhaps the taser was the better of several "bad choices"...the lesser of two evils, so to speak. There is no safe way to subdue anyone who has a child in their hands. You cannot safely grapple with them. You can't shoot them. You can't use any sort of impact weapon. You can't use chemicals like pepper spray. It would be sufficient to say that there is NO best option here. From a law enforcement standpoint, the question is, "Was there an immediate need for action?" And, if so, what was the best choice of action available to the officer at the time? Did they know he was the infant's father? Did they know that they wanted to be discharged? Had the staff warned them that the child was in danger. In short, did they act appropriately, given the information they had available to them at the time?

Obviously the man was upset. But was he also irrational? Put yourselves in the same shoes. Two properly identified, and uniformed police officers are trying to prevent you from exiting a hospital with your newborn child. "Why" you may ask yourself. Why indeed! Wouldn't the more prudent person speak rationally with the officers and explain that he and his wife were dissatisfied and wanted to leave? Wouldn't a reasonable person realize that there is probably a process to all this and that their current course of action is proving to be...well, dangerous?

I agree that a person, who is within their own faculties should be able to check themselves or their children out of the hospital if they are in anyway dissatisfied with thier treatment. In fact, they can and the hospital cannot stop them. However, in the case of the infant, things can get a little....sticky. If the staff feels that taking the infant out of the hospital would subject him to an immediate risk of death or great physical harm, then (in most states) Physicians and Law Enforcement Officers have the statutory power to "temporarily" relieve either the patient or their guardian of there right to choose for themselves. Most states have legislated this power to Docs and cops in some fashion or another...her in Florida, it's called a "Baker Act".

Now, none of this is intended to defend the officer's decision to use his taser. But having a law enforcement background and knowing that the media and the public have a huge lack of understanding about how law enforcement officers are trained and the processes by which tactical decisions such as the use of force are made, I remain reluctant, to jump to any conclusion based on the information presented by the media.

It is true that Tasers are overused by law enforcement. In fact, the article puts it well by saying it's become a "convenient labor-saving device to control uncooperative people." Tasers were never meant to keep lazy cops from wrestling uncooperative people and they are most definitely abused by more than a few officers.

But I think the article leaves a great deal unexplained and so I'll keep a neutral ground on this particular issue.

1:02 AM  
Blogger John Boanerges Redman said...

Just looking around at people who have Sacred Harp mentioned. Jasper isn't far from B'Ham, so, hope you will be there the Thurs, Fri, and Sat B-4 the 3rd Sun in June for the National Convention. New location, I forget where but you can find. I head the finance committee that passes the plate. Say "Hi" to me. I stay with the Smiths, Gary and Sarah (Beasley).
We share similar interests.

2:26 PM  
Blogger LadyLydia said...

I am glad to see there are still some Americans in Georgia. Do you ever read the historical articles on Dixie Outfitters? I am getting ready to post something about the Ulster-Scots, without whom we would not ever have had our national character (as it once was).

1:24 PM  
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