Thomas Mathieu, a 70-year-old living in San Antonio, Texas, describes himself as “a gentle person,” which is why he is so confused about an encounter with police officers in January who beat him up, sending him to the hospital with injuries.
Dashboard camera footage of the incident was recently obtained by WOAI-TV. The cops might have initially thought Mathieu was intoxicated at the time, but he was actually suffering a diabetic episode.
The news station, which explained that Mathieu is the family member of one of its anchors, stopped his car in the turning lane of an interstate road when he started feeling that he had low blood sugar. He didn’t want to go further, fearing he could harm others if the episode got out of control.
After that, Mathieu doesn’t remember what happened.
“I woke up with my face in the ground,” Mathieu told WOAI.
Officers responding to the scene found Mathieu with his head on the car’s steering wheel. When Mathieu, who said he was unconscious at this point, did not exit the vehicle as the cops repeatedly asked him to do, one punched him. WOAI reported that in the police report, this officer defended his actions, saying he thought Mathieu was reaching for a gear that would allow him to drive off, potentially endangering others.
Mathieu was later dragged from the car. Officers, who at one point threatened to shoot Mathieu with a Taser, asked him how much he had to drink. Mathieu said that he had nothing.
Five minutes after the encounter began, one of the officers asked Mathieu if he was a diabetic. Watch the WOAI-TV’s report of the incident:
This is not the first time cops and diabetics have had misunderstandings while an episode is occurring, which is why the American Diabetes Association advocates for the legal rights of diabetics in such cases and pushes for more education in police forces.
Mathieu was hospitalized after the January 13 encounter with cuts, bruises and three broken ribs. He later developed pneumonia, but it’s unclear if this illness was associated with the cops’ actions.
Bill McManus, chief of the San Antonio Police Department, told WOAI that the incident was investigated internally, but it was determined that the officers acted appropriately. He also noted that San Antonio officers are trained to recognize diabetic episodes, but their first priority in this instance was getting the subject out of the car first.
(H/T: Liberty Crier)