Milwaukee, WI — In May of last year, two West Milwaukee police officers broke down the door to Adam Trammell’s home, confronted him as he stood naked in his shower, and tasered him 18 times until he died. Earlier this year, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm decided that the two cops responsible for this horrifying incident will not be charged. This trend of police killing mentally ill has become the norm and has even garnered the attention of the most staunch police supporters.
A report this week out of the BBC highlights Trammell’s case as well as many other mentally ill people whose lives were brought to a tragic end by those who claim to protect them.
As the BBC reports, already in 2018, across the US, at least 136 people with disabilities are known to have been killed by police officers, according to a database maintained by the Washington Post and analysis of local media reports.
In other countries this number is unprecedented and would create a national outcry if it happened there.
On May 25, 2017, officers Michael Rohleder and Anthony Munoz “responded to a medical emergency under complex circumstances that required them to attempt restraint,” Chisholm wrote to West Milwaukee Police Chief Dennis L. Nasci.
However, according to investigative reports, Trammell, 22, who suffered from schizophrenia, did not exhibit any signs of needing medical attention as police arrived and began to forcibly remove him from the shower.
What’s more, if authorities claim he was in need of medical attention, why would they respond by attacking him in the shower with tasers and brute force? This was not help.
“These police tortured Adam Trammell to death,” said Robin Shellow, one of the attorneys representing the Trammell family, according to JSonline. “This was not ‘help.’ They were not protecting or serving anyone. Naked, cold, confused, alone in his own bathroom and crying for Jesus to take him, he needlessly suffered.”
As the highly disturbing body camera video shows, Trammell was naked in the shower—entirely calm—when police broke down his door. As the innocent mentally ill man stood in his shower, the curtain is then ripped back and an officer says twice, “Brandon, I’m going to need you to come on out,” referring to Trammell by the incorrect name.
As Brandon was not his name, the confused Trammell did not respond which made the officers escalate force. “You’re going to get tased,” the officer barked before deploying the taser on a naked man in his own shower. Trammell then falls to the floor in pain and begins to panic as the two armed intruders proceed to torture him—to death.
It is important to point out that Trammell never posed a threat to officers. He was entirely calm, naked, and did absolutely nothing wrong except not respond to the name Brandon. He had harmed no one, had committed no crime, and he was attacked and killed by people claiming to help him.
Over and over again, as Trammell screams out in agony, the officers deploy their tasers, shocking this innocent man up to 18 times. The repeated tasering caused Trammell to go into distress and this young man spent his last moments of consciousness in agonizing pain while vomiting profusely.
According to the medical examiner’s report, Trammell suffered a black eye, a broken rib and more than two dozen cuts and bruises.
In spite of the overwhelming evidence showing the attack on Trammell, Chisholm concluded there was “no basis to conclusively link” the death of Trammell to the officers’ actions.
“This is a nightmare. I can’t believe this,” Larry Trammell, the victim’s father said. “I think those people should resign. The D.A. and the chief of that police department.”
As the BBC reports, for many, the nub of the problem is the way police are taught to interact from the very beginning – with so much emphasis on firearms training and personal protection, and relatively little on de-escalating confrontations.
As things stand, the deaths and injuries of people with disabilities at the hands of the police have left some of the people Candace Coleman works with in Chicago’s South Side wondering who might be next, she says. Some of them have made pacts never to call the police under any circumstances, she adds, so worried are they that harm could come to them.
Coleman says they’ve also got together in groups to discuss what they can do to protect themselves in any interactions with the police.
“Extra disability training for police is one thing but is not enough,” Coleman says. “We need a cultural shift across the board.”
“The way in which they approach situations needs to change. It shouldn’t always be that the immediate reaction is to pull out your gun or your Taser or to yell or scream,” she adds.
Sadly, however, as the extremely graphic video below shows, yelling screaming and tasers are all most cops know—even when dealing with entirely peaceful, naked, unarmed man taking a shower.