Amarillo, TX — When your only tool is a hammer, often times, everything begins to look like a nail. John Priest learned this the hard way when police mistook his medical emergency for resisting arrest as he slipped into a diabetic coma. Instead of providing him with the medical attention he needed, Priest was savagely beaten and severely injured by police.
The incident happened on January 9, 2017 but the dashcam footage was only just released. According to John's father, Daniel Priest, the family has been trying for two years to get the video released because the department tried to keep it a secret.
According to Daniel, the video shows what "amounts to an unwarranted, violent, physical assault perpetrated by 2 Amarillo police officers on my son John Priest, while he was incapacitated and in critical medical danger brought on by a diabetic low blood sugar state."
As the video shows, Priest is stopped in the road in a clear state of diabetic distress when two Amarillo police officers pull up behind him. He is unable to respond to their commands and so police respond by smashing out the rear window and then hitting the unresponsive diabetic in the head multiple times.
As Daniel Priest explains, John "had stopped his car in a roadway and was sitting in the drivers seat and was unable to respond any commands given to him. When a diabetic has a low blood sugar incident, the first organ that begins to shutdown is the brain, and someone with that condition becomes unresponsive and is basically helpless and they may instinctively be combative to someone attempting to offer medical assistance. That is not what happened here.
"When officers pulled up on John, you can see him sitting in the drivers seat and it appears that he was rubbing the top of his head with his right hand at one point. The officers tried to open the doors and were looking into the car. You cannot hear any of the officers commands or hear them talking to John. One officer then breaks out the back window with his nightstick but which apparently startled John because he can be seen rocking from side to side in the seat. Then this same officer, a very large individual can be seen reaching in, through the broken back window and striking John in the head at least 3 times before unlocking the door and both officers violently removing him from the car and throwing him on the ground where there are glass shards from the broken window."
As Priest falls to the ground, he appears to be unconscious or at the very least, partially dazed and limp and is presenting no threat to the officers at all. Despite these facts, police continue their assault on him.
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"He was not resisting the officers consciously though and as a result he received quite a number of blunt force injuries and required over 30 stitches to close the wounds on his head. The doctors and emergency personnel were appalled at his injuries and it was the opinion of the attending physician that the large cuts on his head were caused by the blows from the nightstick."
Because police beat him so badly, John had to be hospitalized — which ended up saving his life. Had he been arrested and brought to jail, police would've likely ignored his medical distress further and he may have died. However, when he was brought to the hospital, staff recognized his distress and found that his blood sugar was at a dangerous 27 mg/dL, and they saved his life.
Daniel Priest is now planning to bring his case to the Texas Rangers and attempt to get the officer who savagely beat his son for no reason held accountable.
According to Daniel, an internal investigation by the Amarillo PD found that neither of the officers had done anything wrong. Neither of the officers were disciplined and they currently remain on active duty.
The Priests are also seeking to file a civil lawsuit as well, which they are likely to win.
Sadly, cops mistaking medical problems for criminal behavior is an unfortunately common scenario. As TFTP previously reported, like Priest, Carl Leadholm was in diabetic medical distress and needed help when he was targeted by five police officers. However, his innocence and the fact that he needed help was of no consequence to the officers who mistook low blood sugar for a criminal act. Like Priest, Leadholm was savagely beaten.