Epilepsy Foundation Announces Updated First Responder Training Video
Editors’ Note: Excerpts from the police handbook and curriculum and related resources are available at http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/about/professionals/
Epilepsy Foundation Announces Updated First Responder Training Video as Another Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Police is Filed
Washington, D.C. (August 15, 2008)−The Epilepsy Foundation today again urged first responder organizations to take advantage of seizure awareness and response training offered by the Foundation’s affiliates across the country. This action comes as another wrongful death lawsuit is filed. This most recent action is against the Stanislaus County (California) Sherriff’s Department involving the death of a man with epilepsy who was restrained and tasered by deputies.
“While the overwhelming majority of law enforcement personnel do an outstanding job in recognizing and properly responding to persons having seizures, there continue to be regular reports about police misinterpreting behaviors related to seizures or post-seizure confusion as criminal conduct or aggression,” said Eric R. Hargis, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation.
Hargis added, “The Foundation has developed a comprehensive training curriculum for law enforcement personnel and other first responders on this subject – ‘Take Another Look: Police Response to Seizures and Epilepsy’– just one of the many programs that our affiliates provide in their communities to raise public awareness about epilepsy and reduce the stigma associated with the condition.”
This most recent lawsuit was filed by the parents of a man with epilepsy, James Edward Wells, who died on August 15, 2007, after deputies allegedly used excessive force in trying to subdue him while responding to a report that he had forcibly entered his neighbor’s home. According to the action, Mr. Wells, who had experienced a seizure that morning, wandered from his apartment to his neighbor’s house as the result of post-seizure confusion and impaired consciousness (which is common). The deputies apparently misinterpreted his behaviors as aggression, and possibly the result of illicit drug use. (Tests showed that Mr. Wells had no illicit drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the incident.) Consequently, they allegedly beat him with batons, pepper sprayed him in the face, shocked him multiple times with a Taser, and restrained him, face-down and behind the back, with handcuffs, applying pressure to his back with their bodies -- causing his death by asphyxiation. Visit the Web address above for more details on the case.
Visit http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/about/professionals/emergency/index.cfmfor excerpts from the curriculum and background on similar cases involving people with epilepsy and first responders. First responder agencies can call the Foundation’s toll free number, 1-888-Epilepsy, to get a copy of the current training curriculum.
When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they have epilepsy, which affects 3 million people in the United States and 40 to 50 million people worldwide. This year, another 200,000 people in our country will be diagnosed with epilepsy. To date, there is no known cure.
About the Epilepsy Foundation
The Epilepsy Foundation, a national non-profit with affiliated organizations throughout the United States, has led the fight against epilepsy since 1968. The Foundation’s goals are to ensure that people with seizures are able to participate in all life experiences; and prevent, control and cure epilepsy through services, education, advocacy and research, so not another moment is lost to seizures. For additional information, please visit www.epilepsyfoundation.org.