Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Justice System Lottery
In the never ending game of Justice System Lottery taxpayers in Harris County, Texas will be coughing up $3 million dollars after an appeals court upheld Shirley Nagel’s wrongful death case against Harris County in 2009. Nagel originally called police when her 52 year old son, Joel Don Casey, stopped taking his medication and became violent. “Deputies Tasered him 18 times and his hands and feet were bound.”
“The medical examiner said Casey died from psychotic delirium and heart disease that was impacted during the restraint.”
A couple of thoughts came to mind; his mother knew her son needed treatment, why’d she call the police instead of an ambulance? There must have been some kind of violence, either actual or threatened for her to summon police. She was afraid of her own son and thought it reasonable and prudent to have him removed.
If it was reasonable and prudent for her to be afraid then why wouldn’t it be just as reasonable and prudent for officers upon being confronted with a violent psychotic man to use necessary force to halt the violence? Would they have been justified in taking his life or had they done what they could to keep from using lethal force?
I read another account of this incident written by Leticia Juarez which added an interesting consideration:
“When asked on the stand what he would do differently, Deputy Gehring said he “would do it the same.”’
‘“Very unfortunate, but they were just trying to do their job,” Harris County Attorney Frank Sanders said.”
Having been a patrol officer and worked the street, too many times we confronted similar violent individuals. It took several officers to take them down and literally “hog tie” them to keep them from kicking or biting. Let me tell you, that’s about as dangerous as police work gets because some of these folks are drugged up, feel no pain and keep on coming at you.
I have to wonder, if confronted by a violent psychotic would Deputy Gehring really do it the same all over again? Even if he followed the Department’s Standard Operating Procedure Manual to the letter, it would only be natural to pause, even if for half a moment to consider the death of Joel Don Casey and wrongful death lawsuit which followed.
In that half moment, where a sliver of doubt might exist is where added danger lurks for police officers and the public. Instead of acting swiftly to contain a violent individual with less than deadly force, Tasers most times are not fatal and usually have no long lasting effects; a delay of action could bring about disaster for officers and/or the public.
Our thanks to Shirley Nagel and her attorney for helping create a sliver of doubt which one day will creep into some officer’s mind at that moment when he/she is carefully determining how to best survive a dangerous situation. I have all the compassion in the world for her loss; however, according to all accounts her son was clearly violent and there was no way of knowing the outcome.
This is our Justice System Lottery, for those who fell off the turnip truck on their way into the big city. Every now and then one lucky winner takes home a bundle of money. Just like other lotteries, for that one person to win millions, millions of others must pay; in this case the taxpayers of Harris County, Texas paid the winning ticket.
This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.
Posted by T. F. Stern at 11:13 AM