John Harmon’s sugar levels dropped to dangerously low levels as he was driving to his Hamilton County, Ohio home after working late in 2009, court documents said.
The diabetic, 51, began to suffer a medical emergency while behind the wheel, Harmon said. A sheriff’s deputy saw his car weaving and signaled for Harmon to pull over. That’s when things escalated, according to a federal lawsuit filed in Cincinnati in 2010.
The suit said Officer Ryan Wolf approached Harmon’s SUV with his gun drawn, accompanied by another patrol officer.
“All I remember, I just saw someone outside my window, gesticulating and looking extremely angry and evil,” Harmon said in the deposition, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
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Harmon said Wolf, without giving Harmon the chance to comply with an order, shattered the man’s driver’s side window, spraying his face and body with broken glass.
The second cop Tased Harmon when a third officer arrived at the scene, the suit said. All three officers then tried to remove Harmon from the vehicle by pulling his neck, Harmon said. He was Tased a second time.
The deputies soon realized Harmon was caught in his seatbelt, the suit said, and an officer cut it to get him out of the car, the suit said.
The 6-foot-3, 270-pound black man was then dragged from the vehicle, thrown on the ground, kicked in the head and stomped while laying on his back, the Enquirer reported.
Meanwhile, Harmon was going into diabetic shock, the newspaper said.
At some point, an officer saw a diabetic kit on the floorboard of Harmon’s vehicle. That’s when Harmon was asked if he is diabetic, to which he responded, “yes,” the suit said.
But by then, Harmon had suffered a dislocated elbow and trauma to his shoulder and thumb, and had been Tased seven times, the suit said.
And even though paramedics confirmed Harmon’s blood sugar levels were indeed low, authorities still charged him with resisting arrest (the charges were later dismissed), the suit said. While at the hospital, Harmon was not allowed to use the restroom, and he eventually urinated on himself, according to the suit.
An investigation showed that during the traffic stop, it was “plausible” that Harmon’s door wasn’t locked and deputies didn’t try to open it, the Enquirer reported. It also found that the deputies used excessive force, the newspaper said, and they were disciplined.
One of Harmon’s attorneys, Tim Burke, argues that if Harmon had been a white man, “he wouldn’t have been treated this way,” the Enquirer reported. But the sheriff’s office said the incident wasn’t racially motivated, the newspaper said.
Hamilton County has agreed to pay Harmon and his wife $425,000, the newspaper reported. Court records show a former order dismissing the case was filed in January.
Ed Boldt, a lawyer for the sheriff’s office, has told the newspaper that in response to the incident, all deputy sheriffs have been trained to recognize the symptoms of diabetes.
Harmon still has difficulty when he sees a sheriff’s car, Burke told the newspaper.