Lewisville Police Tased a 67-Year-Old Alzheimers Patient Multiple Times, Husband Claims

TaserGun.jpg
Junglecat, via Wikimedia Commons
It started with a call to the Alzheimer's Association in Dallas. On May 29, David Seyfried phoned the agency's hotline to tell them that his wife, Delores, a 67-year-old Alzeheimer's patient, was "agitated" and waving around a letter opener.

He was expecting advice. What he got a few minutes later was a visit from Lewisville police.

According to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in Sherman, LPD Sergeant Courtney Letalien arrived, orange shotgun in hand, as Seyfried was trying to calm his wife in the backyard. Seyfried pleaded with the officer to put the gun away and assured him that, given a few minutes, he was sure he could get her to calm down.

Instead, Letalien and another officer tased Delores twice -- once in the thigh, once in the right buttocks -- and shot her three times with the "less lethal" orange shotgun, presumably firing rubber bullets or beanbags, before they were able to subdue and handcuff her, according to the suit.

Delores suffered a broken wrist and severe bruising. Doctors closed a cut on her chin with stitches. The gash on her head required 17 staples. Seyfried says officers responded to his complaints of excessive force by telling him they'd "saved his ass today."

The lawsuit alleges that the cops' actions were unreasonable and violated Delores' Fourth Amendment rights.

"No reasonable officer could have believed that such extreme force was necessary to calm a one hundred and twenty-five pound, elderly woman with dementia," it says.

We have a call into Lewisville PD seeking comment. (Update at 2 p.m.:: Lewisville Police Chief Russell Kerbow called to say the department doesn't comment on pending litigation.)

(h/t Courthouse News)

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42 comments
david_seyfried
david_seyfried

In truth, I was on the phone the the Alzheimer's Association before I was approached with a dull, small, letter opener. At no time did I feel threatened. I had handled much worse in the past. There was no need for 9 squad cars, a Taser, a Bean Bag shotgun or to have Laurie's wrist broken in 2 places and then handcuffed. i should not have had to pay for the surgery to repair the wrist or explain to my wife, every day, why she was wearing a cast. (Much less, put up with being hit with that cast.) My wife sinks downhill at an accelerated rate since she experienced the Taser. This has made life far more challenging than it was. The main question that wasn't asked remains to be "Do you feel threatened?" I never felt threatened. This event was not necessary. And the Lewisville Police should feel ashamed that they tried to find some reason to arrest me in order to justify their actions! I am a man of peace. My loving wife is a victim of abuse by those who we count on to protect and serve. We felt neither protected nor served. We felt abused and provoked.

If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. If you are a cop and your main tool is a weapon, every problem looks like a target! My wife should never have been qualified to be a target!!!

rich1620
rich1620

When President George W. Bush decided to use the National Guard and reserve units to fight our wars, it had severe consequences. It allowed returning war veterans with mental disorders to return to their old law enforcement jobs that allowed them access to lethal and torture weapons. Most wars like the Vietnam war was fought with young men fresh out of high school. If they came back suffering from mental illnesses, law enforcement would not hire them. However, when a National Guard or reserve unit is activated to go to war, the employers are required by law to hold those job positions open for those employees when they return regardless of their war experiences. This is the main reason that we have some officers in law enforcement that are unstable and sometimes dangerous.

These mentally ill war veterans fall into two basic categories. The first profile are those who are suffering from PTSD and/or chronic depression and/or severe anxiety. They may be doing fine one minute; however, their mental disorders can be triggered in a second by an event or actions of others. The second profile are those who have become cold and ruthless. Who beat and kill unarmed fellow Americans with no remorse as if they are still fighting hostile war combatants.

Since so many police officers have recently served and are attached to military units, they are using harsh military tactics, maneuvers and weapons on U.S. citizens and no one in Washinton seem to care..

casiepierce
casiepierce

Am I the only one troubled by the fact that the husband was on the phone with the Alzheimer's Association looking for advice, and their idea of "help" was to send the police? Those people should be included in this lawsuit as well.

lubaleta
lubaleta

People with more than one brain cell that rub together know that even a 125# little old lady with Altzheimer's can be as strong as an ox and takes stonger measures because you cannot reason with them.  It sounds to me like the officer was protecting not only the woman from herself, but her husband from her.  I personally wouldn't want to be facing a public like the critics below and risk my life, day after day for you.

commoncents
commoncents

There were alot of worring reports like this in Germany in 1936.  I wonder if History is cyclical?

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

Each time she was tased, she forgot.

chasmaniac
chasmaniac

I'm really troubled by this attitude that the police have which is put into the form of a motto "Whatever it takes to get home". Any number of abuses and outright crimes can be justified with this way of thinking.

What happened to 'To Protect and to Serve' ? Seriously ?

Yes, police have a tough job, but to be honest, the job isn't really that dangerous when its compared to other jobs. According to the Department of Labor and Statistics ( as of 2010 ) Police didn't even make the top ten of most dangerous jobs, and that almost half of the police deaths were the results of traffic accidents, and those weren't due to high speed chases.

 The garbage man (sanitation worker) has a more dangerous job than your typical LEO, but do you hear about any cases of the trash guy abusing your rights, or shooting you because your trash bags were too heavy ?

Prehaps their new motto - cops I mean, not sanitation workers - should be "I'm going home tonight, over your bruised, battered or dead body if need be" but I suppose that doesn't evoke that Officer Friendly feeling with the public.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

the officers should be dosed with LSD and tazed for 6 hours.

BettyC1
BettyC1

Lewisville police are always doing strange things I saw one case on Court TV.

JustSaying
JustSaying

This was a clear overreaction to a grandmother wielding nothing but a letter opener. Now if she was waving around a switch that she pulled off of a tree or shrub, then its a different story. My grandmother was a menace with those things when I got in trouble as a kid.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

What a bunch of morons ... where was the tear gas?


I have had to deal with elderly Alzheimer's/dementia patients.  This situation though scary is relatively easy to handle.  It does not require the level of force that the LPD used.


Most people make the mistake of escalating the agitation rather than bringing it down.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

A bucket of cold water would prob work.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

How do you calm a 125 pounds woman with dementia waving around a knife?  Have the police stand around until she falls asleep?  If they would have waited an hour, would that have been better?  Throw a net over her?  What if you tase her and she keeps moving?  What would be the criticism if the Help Desk person failed to call police when the operator clearly knew a weapon and dementia were part of it?

I see a lot of cute comments, but no alternatives.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

This is the result of our rabid 'law and order' mentality, and thinking that cops are heroes. And swallowing their bs when you are on jury duty. And thinking that it can't happen to you.

Read this, "Rise of the Warrior Cop." By Balko.

We are way more at risk from the ridiculously named 'serve and protect' yahoos than from the OTHER brand of terrorists.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Oh my God!  That poor old soul.  What the hell is wrong with these asshole cops nowadays?

observist
observist topcommenter

Finally!!!  A chance for the Lewisville cops to try out the new beanbag shotgun and the new Taser!

susanlb
susanlb

This hurts my heart!  As someone that has alzheimer's in the family, I cannot imagine how frightening this was for both the husband and the wife.  So, so sad.

LeroyJenkem
LeroyJenkem

Hey, it looks as if the Lewisville police department has mellowed out compared to the old days. I wonder if they just tase random raccoons in people's back yards instead of blasting them with a shotgun eight or nine times "just to make sure"?

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

Question Asked  It started with a call to the Alzheimer's Association in Dallas. On May 29, David Seyfried phoned the agency's hotline to tell them that his wife, Delores, a 67-year-old Alzeheimer's patient, was "agitated" and waving around a letter opener.He was expecting advice.

Question Answered  What he got a few minutes later was a visit from Lewisville police.

wilme2
wilme2

"Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding."

david_seyfried
david_seyfried

@lubaleta Seriously?! A cop is informed that the woman behind the fence in the late stages of Alzheimer's and he speaks to her as he would to a normal person. Then he forces the gate open and Tases the woman because she is not responding to his words in a timely fashion. All that was required was patience, compassion and education. There was no danger until the cops showed up. There was no risk. She was locked behind a fence! Nobody was in danger except me and my loving wife!

chasmaniac
chasmaniac

@lubaleta 

Answer this question. Knowing the injuries the officers inflicted on the woman in order to "protect" her and others, what do you think would have happened if the husband had showed up at the ER with her in that condition and explained that he did it to "...protect her " ?

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@MikeWestEast you're a moron, no one wanted the police there, no one from the home called the police.  They were trespassing, and assaulted this woman. 

rusknative
rusknative

@MikeWestEast if you are not an overweight impatient ignorant cop, you COULD get out of her way while she could be talked down...maybe call social services to send out help.....but NO....SHOOT FIRST, TASE AND GO SCARF DOWN DONUTS AND A BEER.   ignorant shits.

wilme2
wilme2

@MikeWestEast I don't think anybody asked them to calm her down.  In fact just the opposite.  They were on their own property, the general public was not in danger.  And the story says "letter opener".  

So yes, unless the timeline in the story is bogus, I think waiting her out a little bit would have been a great idea.  Or the old fashioned surround her and take away the dangerous item.  While there is certainly a risk of injury to those involved, do you really think 17 staples in her head was a better outcome?

I all you have is a less-lethal shotgun and a taser, you might start treating everyone like they need a less-lethal shot to the #$%% chest.

russell.allison1
russell.allison1

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz A $12/hr mental health tech from any psych facility would have known to go inside, grab a big pillow or thin mattress and then pin her against a fence or wall with that while someone carefully disarms her.  It's more work than a taser, but done correctly, she might not have had even a bruise.  Even better, someone with some patience and a shred of training probably could have talked her down.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

What's wrong is We have allowed it to happen.

david_seyfried
david_seyfried

@oakclifftownie 

Actually, I was on the hotline to ask for general help in dealing with my loving wife. It was only later, while still on the line, when she came out of the master bedroom with an old, small and dull letter opener in the shape of Excalibur that things went bad. The AA didn't ask if I was in danger and they instructed me to exit the house. I did this and it only agitated my loving wife. Once I followed instructions and got outside the gate she was more angry than I had ever seen her. It was then that the AA called 911 and had the Lewisville cops show up. Nobody asked if I was in danger. I never was in any danger! Neither was my loving wife until the Lewisville PD showed up. Then they abused my loving wife and tried to intimidate me into committing a crime so their actions would be justified. Unfortunately for them, I am a peaceful man who doesn't do drugs and lives a clean life (except for my garage and my office that I can't clean because my wife will insist on "helping" me) and does not believe that violence solves anything.

There are some details missing that should be clarified. Perhaps someone will contact me for the real story someday.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

 @oakclifftownie The moral of this story is, "you will get no help from the Alzheimer's Association of Dallas.  Only pain."

rusknative
rusknative

@wilme2 fill the kid with donuts and caffeine, and watch how he shoots old ladies.

observist
observist topcommenter

@wilme2  But hammers don't pound nails, people do! 

david_seyfried
david_seyfried

@wilme2 The letter opener was a replica of Excalibur and has been dull for many years. It was too small to even use as a letter opener.

If they had waited 5 minutes, it would have been better.

Laurie was Tased several times and my loving wife kept getting up! It was the bean bag from the shotgun (17 staples in the outer right thigh) that took her down and allowed an officer to step on her wrist and break it in 2 places that stopped her. Then they handcuffed her and handed her over to paramedics. (and photographed the wounds, searched my house and notified Adult Protective Services to initiate an investigation.)

My loving wife has scars that will never go away. She has new pain when the weather changes. I suffer more abuse. (Violence breeds violence.)

Our lives have changed drastically, and not for the better!

What a difference 5 minutes would make!

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