Tulsa, OK — The Tulsa police department has a Community Response Team, which includes mental health specialists who are trained in dealing with sick individuals who need help not handcuffs. But when a local business called for help with a mentally ill woman who locked herself in the bathroom, they sent untrained and extremely cruel cops instead. As a result, an innocent elderly woman was beaten bloody and locked in a cage for a month — never receiving any help at all.
On Oct. 25, 2021, LaDonna June Paris walked into a Habitat for Humanity ReStore in the midst of a mental health crisis. Paris is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was having a manic episode associated with her illness.
Before ReStore employees called police, Paris had been in the store for hours and had harmed no one. She had simply locked herself in the bathroom and employees were concerned with her wellbeing and the wellbeing of her dog who was in a Uhaul truck she was driving.
When officers arrived on the scene, Paris would not come out of the bathroom. For 30 minutes officers attempted to get her to come out but not with compassion or talking. Instead, they laughed, rattled and banged on the door, and deployed a taser to scare her.
Banging, laughing, and taser sounds to a person in a bipolar manic episode is like throwing gasoline onto a fire. Adding to the gross incompetence of these actions was the fact that the officers were enjoying it.
"I love my job!" officer Ronni Corracia said as she taunted the 70-year-old woman with her taser. “This is going to be so fun.”
As Corracia and another officer taunted Paris, they were seen laughing and waiting for a third officer, who they hoped to show up, because he is apparently good at doling out violence on elderly women.
“I really hope it is (name unclear) because I really like the way he works,” Corracia says. “He is going to pound the door open and spray her.”
After taunting the woman for half an hour, that officer shows up. As the video shows, he kicks in the door and the 70-year-old woman is thrown to the ground, her face smashing into the concrete floor as the three cops pile on top of her.
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“After 34 minutes of unsuccessful verbal coaxing, Paris still refused to open the door and surrender,” the statement says. “Officers forced entry into the small bathroom and quickly secured Paris with minimal force."
Paris' mental health crisis becomes even clearer at this point as she begs for someone named "Rufus" to help her. Instead of help, however, she received handcuffs and was dragged outside where EMS was called to deal with the bloody gash on her face.
Once outside, her mental state was even more evident. When EMS arrived, they noticed her mental state immediately and attempted to tell the officers that she needed help. However, the officers were intent on taking her to jail, which is where she was taken.
“She tried to set the bathroom on fire; she had a lighter with like the (aerosol) spray," Corracia can be heard telling the EMS worker. "She had a lighter with the spray, like spraying at the door and at us, so she gets to go to jail now for probably arson, trespassing, obstruction — cause she wouldn’t leave — resisting, all that stuff.”
None of this spray or light is evident in the video.
Paris was charged on Oct. 28 with attempted arson, assault and battery upon a police officer, resisting an officer, trespassing and cruelty to animals. She was thrown in solitary confinement in Tulsa County jail for approximately a month and received zero mental health care. After 29 days, the case was dismissed on Nov. 23 “in the interest of justice and civil diversion.”
After the incident, the department released a statement claiming that the officers acted within policy, although they did admit that laughing and taunting could be "perceived" as unprofessional.
As you watch the incident below, ask your self the question, what if this was your mother or grandmother?
This case is reminiscent to that of Karen Garner who received similar treatment by police. Like Paris, she was an elderly mentally ill woman whose run-in with police left her battered and in a cage.