Man with epilepsy sues city for arrest during seizure

INDIANAPOLIS – An Indianapolis man with epilepsy is taking the city to federal court, accusing two officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department of beating him while he was having a seizure.

The lawsuit, filed Feb. 1, claims there was excessive force, assault, false arrest and false imprisonment. It also calls into question the training of two IMPD officers who were involved.

“All I do is hurt myself when I have a seizure, I don’t hurt nobody else,” said Randy Lynn, who said he has had epileptic seizures since age 7.

In February 2011, Lynn had just finished helping his sister clear snow and ice from a sidewalk from her place of employment in the 2500 block of West Washington Street. As he was walking back home, he said a seizure caused him to fall down and bloody his nose.  After falling, a witness said Lynn stumbled around in a dazed state.

After the witness called authorities, two IMPD officers were the first to arrive.

According to a police report, the officers thought Lynn was intoxicated.  When they tried to put Lynn in handcuffs, he resisted.  The struggle included the officers wrestling Lynn to the ground, hitting him in the head three times and shocking him with a taser three times. At one point, the officers thought Lynn was trying to disarm them.

The police report, filed on Feb. 11, 2011, stated “While Mr. Lynn was being tased in his lower back, he did reach back with his right hand and grab ahold of the taser and was attempting to pull it away.”

Lynn said it was the seizure, not drugs or alcohol that caused him to resist.  He said he has no memory of the encounter with police.

“They took me to the hospital and they didn’t drug test me or check my urine or anything,” Lynn said.  “They just left me there for three or four hours then took me downtown.”

The officers charged Lynn with public intoxication and resisting law enforcement. Both charges were dismissed in November of 2012.

Lynn’s attorney, Mark Sniderman, said the federal lawsuit is seeking monetary damages.  However, it’s also intended to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

“We want citizens to be protected and we want police officers to be protected,” Sniderman said.  “Best way to do that is through education and training.”

The lawsuit also contains civil rights counts, claiming Lynn’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated.

IMPD told Fox59 they could not comment on the pending litigation.

A message left with the city’s legal department was not returned as of the posting of this story Tuesday evening.

15 comments

  • Guest

    Wow they really need some training, my mother has epilepsy and you can tell the difference of some one having a seizure and someone intoxicated on drugs or alcohol. SMH I hope he wins and it makes IPD train their officers better.

  • unowutopinionsrlike

    You can't train a jerk on a power trip. They'll still do what they want. I hope he wins. But this guy needs to have a medical emergency bracelet, too. If a medical condition renders you unable to talk, you better have something to talk for you. He's lucky that lady was there as a witness, actually TELLING the cops he was an epileptic. That's what will save him if he wasn't wearing a bracelet.

    • Pam

      I agree but they do not always look for the alert bracelet/necklace and when it is cold and you are bundled up it is hidden. They definitely need to be more aware and more receptive to training.

  • Jeanne

    He'll the teachers at Lutheran High School "say" the have never had a kid with epilepsy before mine who is a senior…… Really are people just afraid to tell they have it or are teachers ignorant… I SAY BOTH

  • Ann Marie

    This incident happened 2 years ago. Since that time, has this police department reached out for the training they obviously need? If not, shame on them. They should ask The Anita Kaufmann Foundation for some training information.

  • Guest #2

    From what I witnessed a few weeks ago, excessive force by IPD in downtown Indianapolis is still a major problem. It is sad that law abiding citizens need to fear the police (those sworn to serve and protect) as much as they do anyone else. Where are the people that police the police?

  • Know how it feels

    I am a man who lives with epilepsy every day of my life. I have tonic-clonics sometimes week to week, when I'm lucky I get a few weeks in between. Its a shame some of the IPD made such an aggressive choice during the arrest of this man. This situation defiantly brings up two different things. First, this officer needs to be punished and educated for selecting beating someone in the head with at baton in this situation. Secondly, more people need to be educated on epilepsy. Epilepsy effects many more people then you think. I am willing to bet someone you have met in your life has been effected by epilepsy. I know I sound like a commercial but I am someone who, in my youth, use to make jokes about other people having seizures. Obviously, if I new then what I know now I would of helped someone instead of making a joke or hitting them with a baton. Oh yeah, if you see a man having a seizure by a gas station, please don't steal his first smart phone. Thanks.

  • forevershanda

    Umm, I don't see where is says anything that the witness told police it was a seizure, just that they witnessed him falling down and called the police. Who's to say the witness didn't report "some drunk stumbling around outside".

  • kcs

    I have epilepsy, wear both a bracelet and a chain around my neck, and from what people who have witnessed me have a seizure and have also been around for the police's response have said that the police often act and treat me as I am criminal, on drugs, . . . in spite of the bracelet, friends' giving information, . . . Fortunately I have little recollection of all of this but I know that I never had this problem with teachers in school, emts, and even most people who witness a seizure or find me shortly after. This story is appalling to me. Especially the 'reached for taser when he was being tased' as a charge of trying to disarm the officer. What do they expect anyone to do when being tased? It is like saying, 'let me hold this lit lighter on your hand but if you pull away I have cause to arrest you.' Police should have full emt type training in at least diagnosis. Epilepsy is not so rare that there is an excuse for this.

  • Kathy

    H.R. 298 has been in committee for 2 years. This Bill would increase Epilepsy Education for all EMS and Police. I agree, more training is needed but yet the Officers also need to protect themselves.

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