Society

Police Rough Up Man, 65, Who Has Parkinson's Disease (Video)

| by Michael Allen

Thomas Smith, a 65-year-old-man with Parkinson's disease, called 911 for a medical emergency, which resulted in the senior being roughed up by police in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, on April 7 (video below).

Thomas' daughter, Shannon Smith, told WJFW: "Total shock as to how this all played out, and how [law enforcement] got this information that was not true."

Dozens of officers, a bomb squad and special responders, including the Oneida County Sheriff's Office, responded to the 911 call.

"[Thomas] was point blank ... trying to get help, and it was taken way too far, and now my dad is in the hospital," Shannon added.

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Alan Smith, Thomas' son, said: "My dad does have cuts, scrapes on his head, a bump on his head, cut-up knees."

Thomas' family said the senior cannot speak, so the 911 operator had him communicate by using the key pad on his phone.

Oneida County Capt. Terri Hook said that the system had not been used in "forever."

Thomas indicated to the 911 dispatcher that he needed police and an ambulance during the 56-minute emergency call.

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Based on the pushing of buttons on a phone, law enforcement reportedly thought that a man, armed with explosives and guns, was holding Smith hostage, but Thomas' family doesn't believe it.

Alan stated: "When a person cannot communicate, he has shortness of breath, you're going to press every button on the phone to get help."

The nearly hour-long 911 call ended suddenly, and when Smith walked outside of his home, he was detained by the Oneida County Special Response team.

Alan stated: "He did say that he was forced down, he was slammed to the ground."

According to Hook, the elderly man was not obeying directions from police, so Hook said that Thomas was "decentralized."

An online search for "decentralized" as a police tactic yielded no results.

"We acted on the information that we had," Hook stated. "We couldn't have acted any other way."

Shannon said her dad is "just really shaken up, he's very upset, a lot of different emotions going on with my family."

Hook insisted the police did exactly what they were supposed to do: "We needed to keep the community safe as well as our officers safe, and we just did the best that we could with the information that we had."

Alan countered: "I'm his voice, and I'm going to make sure that this doesn't happen again to anybody else."

After assuring the public twice on WJFW that there was nothing that could have been done differently, Hook said on April 11 that the sheriff's office can put people's medical records on file so that law enforcement is aware that those people are not able to verbally speak to 911, notes WSAU.

Hook said that citizens have to bring their medical paperwork to the sheriff's office:

We wanted to make sure that the citizens knew that if they brought in medical paperwork from a doctor that explains whatever their illness was that we could make a note in our system about that so that if a call came into the 911 system we could look at that residence and know that there was somebody there with a medical issue.

We've had the ability to do it since we've had this records system. We have certain alerts on different houses. Obviously, we have alerts on houses where there's an officer safety. This would just be a medical alert that would say somebody at this house has a medical condition.

Sources: WJFW, WSAU / Photo credit: Oneida County Sheriff's Office, Wisconsin/Facebook

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