Cops 'Help' Naked, Possibly-Suicidal Schizophrenic Man By Tasing Him To Death
from the barging-in-[electric]-guns-blazing dept
22-year-old Adam Trammell was spotted wandering the halls of his group home completely naked. Feeling the young man was experiencing a psychotic break, the neighbor whose door Trammell had knocked on called the police. When officers arrived, they found Trammell in a distinctly non-threatening state: naked in the shower.
The first officer to reach for Trammell was pushed away. After that, the deluge began.
Two West Milwaukee police officers who broke down a mentally ill man’s door and tased him in the shower 18 times before he died will not be criminally charged, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has decided.
More than 30 minutes elapsed between the first time the officers deployed their Tasers and the time Adam Trammell lost consciousness in the hallway of his apartment building, known to officers as a place that housed people with mental illnesses, according to police reports.
In between, Trammell suffered a black eye, a broken rib and more than two dozen cuts and bruises, according to the medical examiner’s report.
On the officers’ body camera footage, Trammell can be heard screaming in agony.
He spent some of his last conscious moments vomiting profusely.
As is noted in the article, none of the officers will be charged. The DA’s office [PDF] has already cleared them of wrongdoing, claiming the force was not excessive and there was no malicious intent present in responding officers. All they wanted to do was “help.” And they helped the only way they knew how: by hurting.
Trammell did not respond to verbal commands, so naturally officers deployed their Tasers, hitting a naked, wet man standing in his own bathroom multiple times with five-second cycles. In between tasings, Trammell was told to “relax” and stand up. Officers claim in the recap [PDF] of the body cam video that Trammell was “resisting” and “not following orders.” In order to achieve their goal of bringing Trammell to a waiting ambulance, officers felt the need to tase Trammell roughly every 30 seconds for nine straight minutes.
The coroner’s report cleared the officers. Manner of death: undetermined. Cause of death? Excited delirium. The DA’s report notes there is some skepticism about whether or not “excited delirium” is a real thing (rather than a convenient cause of death determination hand-rolled by Taser’s in-house counsel) but ultimately decides to side with the coroner. This means the DA has decided to side with Taser against science, as no medical body (the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association) recognizes “excited delirium” as an authentic medical condition.
If nothing else, the actions taken by the responding officers appears to violate departmental policy. According to the policy quoted in the DA’s report, officers are instructed to minimize use of restraint or engage in physical struggles. They are also supposed to hold off on Taser deployments until EMS is on the scene, and then only if absolutely necessary to approach the subject. Officers are also told to use force only in cases where the subject presents a danger to others.
In this case, the EMS unit does not appear to have arrived until after the routine, repeated tasings began. Considering Trammell’s condition and location — soaking wet in bathroom whose floor was “covered with water” — the decision to deploy an electric shock seems to have posed more danger to Trammell and the officers than anything Trammell himself was doing, or could possibly have done. According to police reports, no one officers spoke to expressed a concern Trammell might harm others. Every single person recorded stated they were worried Trammell might harm himself. If this was the only concern, allowing the situation to de-escalate would not have resulted in harm to Trammell, who was naked, contained in a small room, with no apparent access to weapons.
Even the Taser deployments were sloppy. An additional Taser deployment, triggered by one officer after a discussion with other officers about the limited utility of their Tasers, is given the instant exoneration treatment in the officer’s report. The unbelievable wordsmithery conjures up a dangerous electronic device that apparently triggers itself if it senses people are talking about it.
Rohleder pulled the trigger of his Taser one more time from the hallway, while the leads to its wires were still embedded in Trammell’s body. Rohleder told investigators “this was not an intentional deployment, but occurred spontaneously when the West Allis police asked him if the Taser wires were still connected,” according to Chisholm’s letter.
No officers will be charged. It’s quite possible no one will even be disciplined, despite their inability to follow internal policies. A man who posed no threat to anyone but himself died at the hands of officers who simply couldn’t fathom why a schizophrenic man who was found wandering the halls naked muttering about the devil wouldn’t quickly respond to shouted commands by strangers who had barged into his bathroom to “save” him.