It may be reasonable for police officers to assume that someone weaving through lanes and driving erratically at 4 a.m. could be intoxicated. This is just what Nevada law enforcement assumed when they pulled over Adam Greene, forced him out of his vehicle when he wouldn't move and beat him until his body would submit to allowing them to put on handcuffs.
But Greene, of Henderson, Nev., wasn't intoxicated. He was in diabetic shock, a condition that results from low blood sugar.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal explains officers believed Greene to be resisting arrest, so they put their knees into his back to yank his arms upward, cracking one of his ribs in the process, and kicked him in the face. Officers from both the Henderson Police Department and Nevada Highway Patrol were present, although it is reported that state troopers did not beat Greene.
Watch the video footage of the event that took place on Oct. 29, 2010, but was released on Tuesday after a settlement for Greene was reached (Warning: graphic language and images):
The Review-Journal reports that Greene received a total settlement of $292,500 from the Henderson City Council and the state yesterday.
After receiving blows to the body and head, officers searched Greene, found insulin and put two and two together:
"Call in medical," one officer says in the video. "We found some insulin in his pocket. ... He's semiconscious."
"Let's get medical out here. He's a diabetic, he's probably in shock," the officer later tells dispatch.
Greene's lawsuit said officers then forced him to stand by a patrol car in handcuffs and blow into a Breathalyzer, despite being injured. Paramedics later arrived and treated him for low blood sugar.
Greene was released without a citation, and officers apologized to him for "beating him up," the lawsuit said.
The Review-Journal reports that cases such as Greene's are not as uncommon as you may think. A representative for legal council for the American Diabetes Association is reported as saying that diabetic shock is often mistaken for intoxication:
"You need police to be trained in what to look for," [Alan] Yatvin, [who is also a Philadelphia lawyer] said. "The problem is, there's no authority over all police departments. Every department has its own procedures, and states have different rules and training regimens."
The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes wear a bracelet indicating their condition, but "police still have to look," Yatvin said.
The Review-Journal also points out that this isn't the first notable case in Nevada where a medical condition assumed to be intoxication resulted in harm to the subject. In fact, it was deadly in case of Ryan Rich in 2008 from Las Vegas. Rich, who suffered seizures, was tasered five times and killed after police caught up with him after he crashed into two vehicles on the interstate.
With such an incident in the Henderson area, the police department has reportedly revised its protocol for use-of-force methods.