Javier Ortega Jr. was having a seizure, had a car accident and was subsequently beaten by police who believed he was drunk and resisting arrest in El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 5, 2015 (video below).
Ortega, who has epilepsy, recalled filling his car up at a gas station that night, but doesn't remember anything else until waking up in a hospital bed with numerous bruises, burns from stun guns and broken bones.
According to his medical records, Ortega experienced a seizure while driving.
Ortega's mother, Olaya Calanche, told KFOX that a nurse explained to her what happened: “The police officer that rode in the ambulance with the paramedics had told her that my son had become very combative and he had become so strong like the Incredible Hulk that they had to Tase him twice and used a baton and some of the bruises were because of the baton."
Police are refusing to release a dashcam video of the incident for now, citing an ongoing investigation, but police reports indicate Ortega crashed into a wall, was disoriented and wandering around when an officer arrived on the scene.
The officer thought Ortega was drunk, and described him as "looking around aimlessly and appeared disoriented."
When Ortega tried to leave, the officer attempted to arrest him, there was a struggle and the officer called for backup. Police used a stun gun three times on Ortega and hit him with batons, according to KFOX.
Paramedics, who were called to the scene, noted that Ortega had experienced a seizure, which was confirmed by his physician, Dr. Darine Kassar, a neurologist at Texas Tech University Health Science Center.
Kassar said Ortega's behavior did not sound like resisting arrest, but rather post-seizure behavior, which can last several minutes or up to several hours.
“They will not know what happened, they will be confused, they will be unoriented to what happened," Kassar told the news station. "They can be combative, they can be not following commands because they are confused, they are not back to their normal baseline."
“Don't try to restrain them or be aggressive with them because they are still not back to their normal selves,” Kassar added.
Paramedics recalled finding Ortega handcuffed and placed face down by the police.
The Epilepsy Foundation said in a 2005 press release:
"Unfortunately, first responders all too often employ forcible restraint methods as a means of subduing persons who may appear to be combative, but are actually displaying typical symptoms of a seizure. Practices such as hog-tying (binding hands and feet behind one's back) and/or placing one prone (face down on a stretcher, for instance) and applying force to the back or the neck -- may lead to asphyxiation.
"Additionally, continued patient struggling after restraint application can lead to cardiac arrest. Forcible restraint is known to cause people having seizures or who are in the post-seizure confused state to involuntarily resist or fend off the restraint -- thereby leading to charges of combativeness, such as when the individual mistakenly perceives the medical personnel to be attackers rather than rescuers."
Paramedics described Ortega experiencing seizur-like activity for about a minute on his way to the hospital.
“I know I didn't do anything wrong, you know. I'm not that type of person," Ortega told KFOX. "I'll get pulled over and talk very courteously to any cop. I have cop friends."
Although the medical records backed up the seizure, Ortega was charged with DWI, resisting arrest, evading arrest and interfering with public duties.
A toxicology report from the hospital showed that Ortega didn't have any drugs or alcohol in his body during the crash. The DWI charge was eventually dropped, but Ortega still faces the other charges.
“I feel sorry for him," Kassar stated. "He shouldn't be going through that. It wasn’t his fault. It was his disease which was flaring up at the moment, it wasn't his fault at all, and he got arrested for something he has no control of."
Ortega filed a report with the internal affairs department.