21 Responses

  1. Martha
    Martha June 22, 2008 at 9:37 pm | | Reply

    Stories like these are tragic on both fronts, it seems like in a situation like these everybody pays, include the tax payers.


  2. beth
    beth June 23, 2008 at 3:25 am | | Reply

    I understand not wanting to sue, because I’m sure he doesn’t want to re-live the whole thing over and over until his case is settled. On the other hand, in principle he should sue in order to make those cops pay for their horrible behavior. Sometimes the only thing that gets through to people is a big ole price tag – why not 5 million?

  3. Jo
    Jo June 23, 2008 at 4:10 am | | Reply

    Its too bad that we cant sit down and talk things out like “normal” humans would. It comes down to having to sue. What ever happen to the golden rule or love your neighbor as yourself ? Shame on us for having a disease that you would think people who work in a job that provides service to communities across this county would at least have somekind of ideal or training in emergency situations. When you see a police officer make sure your blood sugar is not low you’ll never know where you might end up at !

  4. Hans
    Hans June 23, 2008 at 8:48 am | | Reply

    There is no excuse for that kind of police action. So legal action seems to be the appropriate answer.

    But there isn’t any excuse for going hypo, either. We PWDs don’t have the right of insulin to go hypo and expect the rest of the world to behave reasonable, whenever we don’t.

  5. Melissa
    Melissa June 23, 2008 at 9:29 am | | Reply

    The only way to ensure you absolutely never “go hypo” is by constantly keeping your levels too high, and even that isn’t an absolute guarantee you won’t “go hypo”. That’s like telling an epileptic there’s no good reason for them to ever have a seizure!

    He should sue, especially if he tried not to and they still didn’t pay any attention.

  6. Bernard Farrell
    Bernard Farrell June 23, 2008 at 12:47 pm | | Reply

    Scary situation. If he weren’t Doug Burns MAYBE he wouldn’t have struggled as much and the police wouldn’t have reacted to the same extent.

    On the other hand if he wasn’t Doug Burns MAYBE he would be dead by now.

    The second alternative seems much more likely to me. I rarely get belligerent when I’m low, but it does happen. And then it’s hard to restrain me.

    The police need to understand why this happens and diagnose it (quickly) to they can apply appropriate force. They’re in a tough situation also, because he may have been high and really crazy in a life threatening way.

    Hans I have to disagree with you. We can’t control our blood sugar and it can go low unexpectedly. If we’re all wearing CGMS, then I’d agree with you. But in the old days where my BG might have gone from 280 to 35 in a single day it’s not that simple.

    From Doug’s description, it sounds like he’s in a tough spot. Let him sue. If he wins and does the right thing with some of the money (after medical and legal costs) then he’d win my vote.

    And if he doesn’t, then the truth will come out.

  7. mollyjade
    mollyjade June 23, 2008 at 12:49 pm | | Reply

    Hypos aren’t going anywhere until we can accurately measure BG levels, carb counts; the interaction of carbs with fiber, fat, and protein; the effects of exercise and hormones and stress and illness. And probably not until we all become perfect PWDs who never get distracted, mess up our math, or have a forgetful moment.

    We have a responsibility to keep ourselves healthy, but this isn’t science and it certainly isn’t simple or easy.

    It sounds like if the police department were to just pay his bills, they would be admitting culpability. The way the system is set up, he has to sue to get any money at all.

  8. Kelsey
    Kelsey June 23, 2008 at 1:29 pm | | Reply

    I agree with the sentiments being expressed. It seems that the problem is with a systems that requires a victim to sue in order to receive any reimbursement for their losses. If the police department/city would admit fault and pay a settlement, Doug wouldn’t need to sue.

    I believe it’s important that the diabetes community stand behind Doug, because we all know this could happen to any one of us.

  9. Lauren
    Lauren June 23, 2008 at 1:51 pm | | Reply

    Suing is the LEAST that should be done. These cops were common bullies attacking a person experiencing a medical emergency. They couldn’t be bothered to reasonably assess the situation, AND they covered it up afterward by slipping his medical ID out of sight.

    Why isn’t this in criminal court? The officers involved should not only have their careers ended in disgrace but they should be behind bars for a good long while. They behaved like thugs. That picture of Doug brings tears to my eyes. Can you imagine anything scarier than being in that situation? How is this possible in a civilized society?

    This is not uncommon. I have worked in an ER and seen cops drag in patients in dire need of medical attention — people with Alzheimer’s, epileptics in post-ictal states — and often the cops have used these sick and terrified people as punching bags. People are often confused when coming out of a seizure, and one young woman was delivered to the ER with multiple contusions because she was “uncooperative” and “refused to answer questions.” She was incapacitated due to a medical condition, but the cops used this as an excuse to rough her up. I’ll never forget it. The memory of it will never cease to make my blood boil.

    Suing is the bare minimum that should be done. How about a public letter of apology from the police department? How about the officers involved standing trial for their actions?

  10. Meg
    Meg June 23, 2008 at 5:03 pm | | Reply

    I agree with Lauren. The police acted criminally.
    However, how hard is it to carry some form of sugar on your person at all times? The news reports say Mr Burns was at the concession stand in search of candy. He knew he was low. It’s just too bad he had to leave the theater to treat a low. The whole ugly incident would have been avoided had he been able to gobble a bag of Skittles he just pulled out of his pocket. So, I think his story is a cautionary tale. And the police are still criminally and civilly liable for their behavior.

  11. PD
    PD June 23, 2008 at 9:17 pm | | Reply

    Individuals can bring a “claim” (simliar to a grievance) against the city and its employees without having to undergo the expenses of litigation. The reason Mr. Burns brought the claim first was in the hope that Redwood City would resolve the situation without litigation. Clearly, the city decided not do resolve the matter in this way, forcing Mr. Burns to file his civil suit in order to preserve his rights before the statute of limitations expired as to certain of his causes of action.

    Of course, the police officers cannot be held criminally liable unless the DA decides to bring charges. I wonder whether the San Mateo County DA has investigated the matter and considered bringing charges against the officers.

    Looking ahead, I foresee the following arguments being made by each side as to the negligence cause of action. Mr. Burns will argue that the police should have recognized his medical ID bracelet and/or the symptoms of hypo and/or that they acted too quickly. The city/police will argue that Mr. Burns was negligent for failing to carry glucose on his body and allowing himself to go hypo. They will also argue that given Mr. Burns size and belligerence, the police acted reasonably and did not have time to determine that Mr. Burns was suffering from hypo. Under California law, to the extent that the police are found negligent, their liability for the damages will be reduced by the proportion that the jury finds that Mr. Burns was negligent.

  12. LaurenK
    LaurenK June 24, 2008 at 12:26 am | | Reply

    I just can’t get that picture of Doug — battered, cuffed, and horribly hypoglycemic — out of my head. If I were that low I would barely understand what was happening to me, it would feel like a waking nightmare. It is heartbreaking.

    I commend Doug for making every effort to turn this into a positive opportunity to educate. Even if the city had been more cooperative, I feel that this still belongs in court, since the police need to be held responsible for their senseless, brutal behavior AND their attempt to cover it up.

    If the police had any sense of decency or humanity they would have recognized a human being in need of help. Perhaps Doug wasn’t able to get to fast-acting carbohydrate in time to prevent a low, but that oversight or incidence of poor planning is in no way comparable to the brutal actions of the police.

  13. Jennifer
    Jennifer June 24, 2008 at 8:25 am | | Reply

    I think it’s great that he’s suing and getting press about it. The $5 million price tag will get tons of attention and that might be more effective in alerting police to the danger of not checking medical bracelets than anything else. I say it’s great that he’s fighting. And if he does something wonderful with the settlement money, great. But I won’t fault him for keeping it either — he’s taking one for the team and deserves compensation for that as well as his pain and suffering.

  14. Felix Kasza
    Felix Kasza June 25, 2008 at 7:44 am | | Reply

    Is being diabetic now an excuse for everything?

    If a hypoglycaemic driver plows his car into a group of pedestrians, should we pat him on the head and congratulate him on not doing it five times a day, what with this horrible disability?

    Stop whining, and start living up to your — our! — responsibilities.


  15. beth
    beth June 25, 2008 at 9:57 am | | Reply

    Didn’t you read LaurenK’s comment above? “Perhaps Doug wasn’t able to get to fast-acting carbohydrate in time to prevent a low, but that oversight or incidence of poor planning is in no way comparable to the brutal actions of the police.”

    This discussion is about what a reasonable response to the situation at hand would’ve been, not making diabetes “an excuse for everything” as you say.

  16. Felix Kasza
    Felix Kasza June 25, 2008 at 5:05 pm | | Reply

    I did read Lauren’s comment It was one the more annoying ones, in my opinion. Lauren would apparently require that all of us be trained enough to distinguish a post-ictal (post-seizure) patient from a drunk and a violent hypoglycaemic patient from a violent non-diabetic (or a violent drunk).

    This is too much of a burden to impose on the rest of the world. It is too selfish and too egocentric by far.

    Finally, if someone kicks at me, I will run away, or kick back, or restrain that person, according to circumstances. I will certainly not invite the poor possibly-hypoglycaemic kicker to hit me again.

    What next, a defence claiming that being a violent drunk isn’t so bad because “the devil alcohol made me do it, your Honour?”


  17. LaurenK
    LaurenK June 25, 2008 at 10:19 pm | | Reply

    Wow. I find your comments incredible, Felix. Yes, I do think that American police should be trained to assess medical emergencies. They have a responsibility to the people in their communities, some of whom have disabilities and medical conditions. Police carry weapons and can use force. So yes, I do think they need to be trained and they need to be held to a very high level of accountability. An Alzheimer’s patient should NOT be roughed up for failing to answer questions promptly. A person having a seizure is not kicking or flailing in an act of violence, that person is having involuntary convulsions. A dazed hypoglycemic man should not be wrestled to the ground and kicked in the ribs. We should all be outraged when such things happen.

    Cops signed up for the job. They signed up to “serve and protect” their communities, and protection is what ALL citizens are entitled to.

  18. Dan (loves his diabetic socks) Brady

    A very interesting dilema, I agree with what the official bodies had to say though. I am sick to death of over-arching law enforcement (taser deaths and the like) … and somebody has to draw a line in the sand.

    I support his claim.

  19. chas
    chas June 28, 2008 at 11:14 am | | Reply

    I think that today there are training measures in place for police officers. A perfect example is the AED thst some towns supply in their police units. I have been a medic in my state for 30+ years and heva trained police in 1st aid,CPR and 1st responders courses. I think every person in law enforcement should be trained from dispatcher to rookie policeman.

  20. Police macing victim: sorry I sued for $5 million

    [...] Championship bodybuilder Doug Burns, who sued the government of Redwood City, Calif. over an incident in which police scuffled with him not realizing that his erratic behavior was the result of insulin shock, defended his decision to file a suit but agreed that the dollar amount assigned was over the top. “The lawyers jacked up the amount, because they always expect to settle for less. ‘Something like this shouldn’t have a $5 million dollar price tag on it. I should have had a better look at the amount. It’s my fault,’ Doug told [blogger Amy Tenderich]“. (Diabetes Mine, Jun. 22). [...]

  21. Nick
    Nick February 19, 2009 at 12:00 am | | Reply

    Frankly, I’m disgusted to see so few people standing up for the rights of diabetics like Mr. Burns. $5million must be the amount it takes to make a point in this country. A country where money talks. If I were in Doug’s shoes I’d make as many waves as it takes to get the point across. Shame on anyone who doesn’t stand behind him. He is the victim here.

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