A newly-surfaced police dash cam video (below) from November 2016 shows a police officer in Riverside, Ohio, slamming a car accident victim's head into the ground while the victim is experiencing an epileptic seizure.
Jisaka (Zack) Shawhan described his seizure to WRGT: "I completely blacked out, can't talk, I just don't have no movement."
The first officer at the accident scene asked Shawhan if he was having a medical emergency, and subsequently took Shawhan down to the pavement.
Officer Ron Reardon then arrived, walked over to Shawhan, said "You f***** up buddy," and slammed his head on the ground.
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According to Shawhan, he can take up to 30 minutes to regain full consciousness after a seizure, which is why he carries a special ID card and emergency medicine.
Shawhan's lawyer, Bill Daly, told the news station: "The last thing you do to an accident victim is go up to them grab them by the head, twist their head and push it into the ground."
Daly is calling on the City of Riverside to drop the criminal charges against Shawhan, and reimburse the family their legal fees.
"There is no justification for that," Daly stated. "That is not a police tactic. That is not a police move you learn in the academy."
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Riverside Police Chief Frank Robinson told the news station that Reardon was suspended, but not charged for his actions:
Officer Reardon was placed on Administrative leave as soon as the incident was reviewed. A criminal investigation was done by BCI, a Special Prosecutor was brought in to review the case. An internal investigation was launched as soon as the criminal investigation was completed. No charges were filed and Officer Reardon was suspended for 3 days for policy violations.
Despite suspending his own officer, Robinson said the situation was handled properly:
Obviously in this case the initial contact with the driver was one in which communication was an issue due to his medical condition, however the situation was handled very professionally. The driver was very combative due to his condition and was taken to the ground after a short struggle.
Of course we did not know the exact nature of medical issue, however the Officer recognized he was having some issues comprehending. There was also a gun on this person and the Officer had to act accordingly to secure him for everyone’s safety. Once the driver was secured the Officers secured the scene and immediately called for a medic.
Robinson acknowledged that Shawhan had a seizure, a medical event and a medical condition, but blamed him for not being cooperative with the police:
I think the thing to keep in mind is that the driver had an accident due to a seizure. When approached by the Officer he was uncooperative and somewhat unresponsive due to his medical condition. However, his condition did not keep him from trying to get out of the car. The Officer clearly advised him several times to get back in the car and show his hands.
The driver was armed with a handgun and once the Officer knew this he asked for back up. The driver continued to be combative and the Officer took action to gain control. The suspect was hand cuffed and only the force necessary to gain control of an armed man was used.
The video clearly shows the struggle. We realize that this is an unfortunate incident that occurred with a subject having a medical event, and we are thankful that driver of the vehicle hit by the suspect was not injured, and we are more thankful that everyone walked away from a potentially fatal situation.
The Epilepsy Foundation website notes that not all seizures are the same:
Seizures can take on many different forms, and seizures affect different people in different ways.
Not all parts of a seizure may be visible or easy to separate from each other. Every person with seizures will not have every stage or symptom.
An aura or warning is the first symptom of a seizure and is considered part of the seizure. Not everyone has an aura.
The middle of a seizure is often called the ictal phase. This correlates with the electrical seizure activity in the brain.
As the seizure ends, the postictal phase occurs -- this is the recovery period after the seizure. Some people recover immediately while others may take minutes to hours to feel like their usual self.