Marshall, MO — Police refuse to investigate an off-duty officer of using excessive force after mistaking an elderly stroke victim for a drunk driver. Immediately after throwing a 70-year-old man out of his truck, the cop restrained him on the ground by pressing his knee into a blocked artery on the side of the elderly man’s neck. Although he repeatedly informed the officer that he was suffering from a stroke, the enraged cop continued to manhandle him until other officers finally arrived.
While driving to Walmart around 6 p.m. on Sunday, 70-year-old James Miller began feeling dizzy and ill before veering off the road and accidentally hitting a house with his pick-up truck. Instead of correctly reading the situation, off-duty Columbia police Sgt. Scott Hedrick ran out of the house and immediately pulled Miller out of the vehicle. After slamming the elderly man to the ground, Hedrick pressed his knee into a blocked artery on the right side of Miller’s neck.
“He had my arm twisted behind my back. I said it was hurting and he said, ‘I’ll break your arm,’” Miller told FOX 4.
Although Miller repeatedly asked Sgt. Hedrick to remove his knee because Miller believed that he was having a stroke, the off-duty cop ignored his pleas and accused him of being drunk without even bothering to smell his breath. A Marshall police officer later arrived at the scene and found Hedrick restraining the compliant elderly man on the ground. After placing the 70-year-old in handcuffs, the officer gave Miller a sobriety test and verified he was sober.
On Monday, Miller’s doctor confirmed that he had suffered a mini-stroke when he lost control of his truck. Due to a pre-existing blocked artery in his neck, Miller suspected that he had been showing signs of a stroke but was unable to pull over in time.
According to a police report, Hedrick’s wife had been standing near the area where Miller’s vehicle hit the house. Instead of rationally assessing the situation, Hedrick lost his temper and immediately began treating the stroke victim like a reckless criminal. An officer at the scene reported that there was a crack in the house and minor damage to the front left bumper of Miller’s vehicle.
“I told him [Hedrick] I’m having medical problems, and he said he didn’t care,” Miller recalled. “They’ve got a job to do. They go through a lot, and they don’t get paid enough for what they do. But this guy stepped over the line.”
This week, a spokeswoman for the Columbia Police Department announced that the department has decided not to investigate Hedrick for use of excessive force.
Miller’s abuse is hardly an isolated incident.
In May we reported the story of officer Shaun Jergens who mistook a man’s medical distress for “non-compliance” and subsequently pepper-spray, tasered, and assaulted him.
Last year, San Antonio police severely beat a man after mistaking his diabetic attack as drunkenness.