Riverside, OH — Zack Shawhan is an epileptic. He carries medicine on his keys and a special ID card to identify himself to others when he experiences a medical episode. Until now, Shawhan has dealt with his condition, living a normal life and receiving help from others when having seizures. However, all that changed when he had a seizure and met officer Ron Reardon of the Riverside Police Department. This brutal interaction was all captured on the officer’s dashcam.
In November of last year, Shawhan had a seizure while he was driving, which caused him to have a minor fender bender. When police arrived on the scene, Shawhan was still very much in the midst of his medical emergency. However, Reardon was clearly unaware of how to deal with a person in a medical emergency — or even an accident victim for that matter.
As the video begins, the first officer to arrive on scene contacted Shawhan to see if he was okay. The first officer was a little more apt to look for a medical emergency than Reardon. Shawhan wasn’t responding to his questions and appeared to be in distress when the officer said he tried to stand up.
As Shawhan tries to stand, the first officer yanks him out of the vehicle and throws him to the ground. This officer’s response was warranted as Shawhan was in legal possession of a firearm and him not being responsive was cause for concern. The family even noted that the way the first officer responded was entirely just.
“I completely blacked out can’t talk, I just don’t have no movement,” Shawhan said of his seizure. He explained that it can take 30 minutes for him to come to after having a seizure.
After the first officer pulled Shawhan to the ground and had him entirely under control, and in handcuffs, that’s when Reardon showed up to dish out some punishment.
“You f**ked up buddy,” says Reardon as he walks up to the restrained epileptic man in the middle of a medical emergency, grabs him by the head, and slams it into the concrete.
“The last thing you do to an accident victim is go up to them grab them by the head, twist their head and push it into the ground,” said Shawhan’s attorney Bill Daly.
“What he did was wrong there is no justification of that that is not a Police tactic, that is not a Police move you learn in the Academy,” Daly said about Reardon’s actions.
Daly is now representing the family in a lawsuit against the Riverside police department seeking payment for the legal fees the family has incurred as a result of Reardon’s actions. Because the officers considered Shawhan’s lack of response to their commands ‘resisting’, they charged him with a crime. The family’s attorney is also asking for these charges to be dropped.
The person who is actually guilty of committing a crime, which was subsequently recorded on video, is officer Reardon. However, because police can attack and assault innocent people with impunity, Reardon will not be charged with a crime. Instead, he was ‘punished’ with a vacation.
According to a statement from the department, Reardon received a whopping 3-day suspension and nothing else.
Officer Reardon was placed on Administrative leave as soon as the incident was reviewed. A criminal investigation was done by BCI, a Special Prosecutor was brought in to review the case. An internal investigation was launched as soon as the criminal investigation was completed. No charges were filed and Officer Reardon was suspended for 3 days for policy violations.
To be clear, if an average citizen walked up to a man on the street — regardless of the seizure, medical emergency, or handcuffs — and slammed their head into the pavement, they would most certainly be charged with a crime. However, if your job is to ostensibly ‘protect’ society, you can do this and face no accountability.
Sadly, this brutal response by police to those in medical emergencies is not all that uncommon.
In September of last year, the Free Thought Project brought you the story of two Oklahoma state troopers who mistook a man’s medical emergency for a crime. So, they dragged him from his vehicle and gave him a gang-style beating.
Before that assault, another man was beaten and assaulted by a brutally ignorant officer. On May 4th, 2015, David Washington was driving his car down Route 1 near the University of Mary Washington when he experienced a medical emergency. The emergency caused him to black out, hit a jeep, and cross over the median striking a road sign.
The driver of the jeep called 911 to report the crash and officer Shaun Jergens arrived on the scene. Body cam footage shows that Jergens cared not about the man in obvious medical distress.
As Jergens approached the car, the distressed and barely responsive Washington was blasted pepper-sprayed and tasered.
“Get out the car or I’m going to fucking smoke you,” says Jergens after assaulting Washington.
Jergens then dragged the sick man out of his car and continued his assault by laying him on the hot asphalt. As if being pepper-sprayed, tasered, thrown on the ground and handcuffed wasn’t enough, police allowed the car to roll on top of Washington’s foot.
No charges have been filed against Jergens for his abuse. None of the officers involved face charges for failing to stop this assault either. However, Washington was charged with hit-and-run, hit-and-run (property damage), reckless driving, and driving on a revoked or suspended license.