SHADMIA'S WORLD

Just Another Guy with Opinions

Epileptic Youth Tasered 12 Times

Posted by shadmia on May 22, 2008

Blake Dwyer, 17, of Shady Shores, had an epileptic seizure while at a friend’s house in Corinth, Texas last July 18. He doesn’t remember it. He doesn’t remember fighting to keep from being tied to a stretcher or hitting a paramedic. What he does remember is: Pain, the agonizing burn of electrical shock, shouting and fear.

“I thought a swarm of wasps was after me,” the 17-year-old Guyer High School athlete said. “I was trying to fight them off.”

What Blake Dwyer does remember is the result of being Tasered 12 times by the Corinth police and he has the burn marks to prove it.

His brother, Travis Baker, 17, remembers all of it. He remembers the epileptic seizure his brother suffered. He remembers paramedics trying to tie his brother to a stretcher. He remembers screaming at Corinth police to stop shocking Blake with a Taser. He remembers crying on the phone, telling his mother, Deana Dwyer, what was happening to his brother.

It all began the previous day when the two brothers spent the night over at a friend’s house. They were getting ready for football practice about 10:30 a.m. the next morning when Travis said he saw Blake bend over to tie his tennis shoes.

“He looked up, and his eyes rolled back in his head,” Travis said. “He fell over and started frothing at the mouth and jerking. I knew he was having a seizure. I was there when he had the others, and I knew what to do.”

Blake Dwyer had been experiencing grand mal epileptic seizures for about a year, possibly brought on, his mother said, by a concussion. Travis said he had learned to calm Blake, who comes out of the seizures with postictal psychosis, a condition that accompanies seizures in some patients to varying degrees. Blake becomes disoriented and frightened, he said. He panics and tries to fight, especially if someone tries to restrain him.

According to information from the Epilepsy Foundation, epilepsy is a neurological condition that sometimes produces brief disturbances in the normal electrical functions of the brain with intermittent bursts of much more intense electrical energy. The resulting seizure may affect a person’s consciousness, movements or sensations for a short time. A person suffering a seizure will fall down, froth at the mouth and jerk uncontrollably.

While Travis was attempting to calm his brother down someone called an ambulance. When the paramedics arrived they took over and told Travis to step back while they attempted to tie Blake down on a stretcher. Travis tried to tell them that his brother was claustrophobic and he couldn’t stand to be strapped down. They ignored him.

According to the paramedic report, Blake was combative. He was making incoherent sounds and fighting against the restraints. He freed his arms and, still strapped to the gurney by the lower part of his body, he began flailing his arms. He struck a firefighter in the face.

A paramedic found a marijuana pipe in Blake’s pocket. This led them to believe that Blake may have been overdosing on narcotics. They called the police for assistance. According to the police report on the incident, Blake was Tasered twice to calm him down.

“[Reporting officer] issued a ‘drive stun’ with the Taser to Dwyer’s upper back to gain compliance so he would stop fighting with the fireman. … Once inside the ambulance Dwyer was once again issued a ‘drive stun’ to gain compliance,” the report states.

However, photographs taken the next day show 24 post burns, representing 12 separate instances of the posts of the Taser being applied to Blake Dwyer’s back and underarm.

Tasers can work in two different ways:

  • A Taser has a cartridge that sends two prongs out on wires. When the trigger is pulled, the probes burst out of the cartridge and can travel up to 21 feet to reach the target. Then electricity travels though the wires and arcs between the probes. That affects the sensory nerves, and the electricity overrides the central nervous system, which means the muscles can’t move. The person falls to the ground, briefly immobilized.
  • Or, the officer has the option of pulling off the cartridge and simply pressing the Taser against the skin. That causes electrical pain but does not immobilize and is called a “drive stun.” It is a way to control someone using pain. This was the method used on Blake.

The boys admit they smoked marijuana from a pipe provided by one of the other boys but insist they used no other illegal substances. Blake’s blood workup the next morning showed only traces of marijuana in his system. There were no traces of any other opiates or psychedelic drugs.

Deana Dwyer said she was mad at Blake for using marijuana “But smoking marijuana the night before had nothing to do with his seizure. He had them before, and he’s had three since.”

No lawsuit has been filed yet. Deana Dwyer sought the advice of Denton lawyer Rocky Haire, who said he has been trying to work with Corinth police for an out-of-court resolution with no luck so far.

“Deana just wants them to acknowledge they did it wrong,” Haire said. “She tried to tell them their officers needed some training on what to do with epileptic seizures and postictal psychosis, but they just blew her off.”

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5 Responses to “Epileptic Youth Tasered 12 Times”

  1. Kristine said

    When I first heard about tasers it scared me. I have epilepsy and the I know that a seizure is caused by an electrical problem in the brain. Not only is it extremely dangerous to use a taser on a person during an episode it also must be extremely dangerous to use one on a person who has epilepsy but is not yet having a seizure. If seizures are caused by electrical problems doesn’t it make sense that it could cause a seizure in an epileptic? Also if it runs in the family and someone has not yet had a seizure could it not begin the seizures if you do this to a person? I understand the benefits to use them on criminals but you can’t ignore the obvious risks. And I have heard that they are becoming available to the public, does anybody realize how dangerous this is? If somebody has a score to settle with another they could easily use a taser on them and possibly kill them. And what if a child gets a hold of it? Does anybody else see what’s wrong with this?

  2. alan said

    i think it’s bloody disgusting that police think its ok to do this kind of shit! and then to denie it because they know they in the wrong and they’re just as corrupt as the criminals them selfs! they should be locked up for this! get a petition going to have this investigated properly and not swept under the carpet like everything else. if the culprits are reading this you should be ashamed of yourself’s. i see this as actual bodily harm! and you should pay for your crime!

  3. brodie said

    i call it criminal.ive been tasered as well as beaten by police and security on the street and in hospitals.its just plain mad that they can shock the hell out of someone whos either on the ground already or already with a medic or in a hospital.
    I HAVE ONLY ONE THING TO SAY SINCE MY STORY SHOULD STAY QUIET FOR NOW:
    ITS NOT THE MEDICINE THAT MAKES A PERSON SUICIDLE,ITS HOW LIFE HANDLES THIS PERSON.AND IF THIS PERSON FREQUENTLY IS ARRESTED,BEATEN,OR TASERED BY POLICE MORE THAN TWO TIMES IN LIFE-HE THINKS HE MUST TAKE A STAND DAMBITT!
    IF THERES ONE PERSON SUFFERING FROM ABUSE,FALSE ARRESTS OR EVEN DENIAL FROM FIRST RESPONDERS,THEN THERES MANY,MANY OTHERS OUT THERE THIS PERSON THINKS HE SHOULD TAKE A STAND FOR.IF SUICIDE COMES DOWN TO IT SO EVERYTHING WOULD BECOME A NEWSREPORTERS STORY INSTEAD OF A COURTS STORY OF UNJUSTICE AND ABUSE THEN ITS FOLKS LIKE I WHO ARE TELLING THEMSELVES “if things like this continue within our trusted government to myself more than once than why shouldnt i just give up and stick up for the rest of the world if i can make it to the new york times in my death and epilepsy”
    ITS JUST A FACT,WE DONT NEED BLACK BOX WARNINGS!WE NEED FIRST RESPONDERS WITH A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF WHATS GOING ON AS WELL AS A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF RESPONSABILITY IN OUR COURTROOMS TODAY!thered be less suicides,and more people with disorders who would have the courage to shake an officers hand.
    somethin tells me i need to take a stand soon.

  4. A fellow epileptic said

    I hope that this case isn’t swept under the rug. We’ve got to get people to understand that epilepsy is a very ‘real’ condition that effects the brain! That while having a seizure and the postictal after affects we are not in our ‘normal’ minds. That is why they tell our families and friends to stay away from us while having a seizure, let us have our seizure, try not to retrain us, just make sure we don’t injure ourselves. It’s because we could possibly hurt someone else and not mean to!!! It’s not as if we are just standing there and think hey, I’m gonna beat the snot out of this guy, or girl, or whatever. It’s because we are not ourselves! Our brain is shorting out!
    The young man should not have been smoking pot, it does lower our tolerance levels with seizures, that is a fact, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the fact of what the police did to this boy. I hope the mother makes them admit that they are wrong, and I hope she is awarded some good hard cash for it@! That seems to be one of the only things that gets peoples attention!

  5. Seizures said

    Two points:

    1.) Actually, pot has been proven to lower, not raise, the frequency of seizures.

    In Canada, the original law suit that introduced medical marijuana was launched by a guy with epilepsy who needed it to keep his seizures in check. Now it’s legal to purchase pot for epilepsy, certain types of cancer, to bring back appetite, etc. (Cocaine and alcohol, on the other hand, do cause seizures.)

    I would use pot to prevent seizures myself, except that I can’t function normally if I’m high.

    2.) Why don’t paramedics know not to restrain someone having a seizure? I thought they’re trained in this. And then calling the police — it’s a nightmare!

    Why didn’t they just give the guy an ativan to calm him down? The idea that they shocked him is unbelievably cruel — as well as having the worst possible result — the opposite of what they wanted.

    People in schools should be taught not to call an ambulance at all if they see a seizure in progress, unless tge person injured him/herself.

    This whole story is just so sad…

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