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Peru Officer Uses Stun Gun on Alzheimer’s Patient

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A Peru officer used a stun gun to shock an Alzheimer’s patient at Millers Mary Manor during a June 17, 2012 incident. Officer Greg Martin used his stun gun to shock James Howard five times after Howard became “combative” and “struck several employees.” Officer Martin was later fired. A judge ordered Peru rehire him in March of 2013. Howard’s wife, Virginia Howard, has filed a lawsuit against the city of Peru and its police department.

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The wife of an Alzheimer’s patient who was stunned with a taser was on hand as Governor Mike Pence signed House Bill 1044 into law.

The law requires officers to undergo training on how to handle incidents involving persons with Alzheimer’s or dementia. It also creates a yearly, mandatory in-service training for all law enforcement.

It was created with James Howard in mind. Last June, the 64-year-old was injured after police were called to Miller’s Merry Manor nursing home.

An officer shocked him with a stun gun five times, despite being told that Howard has Alzheimer’s and can’t follow orders.

The police officer was later fired but is appealing that decision.

Howard’s wife has filed suit against the city and the Peru Police Department.

The story inspired Representative Bill Friend, R-Macy, to author the bill.

“It’s really a matter of public safety,” said Friend. “There is a growing population of people affected by this disease, and it’s important to treat them with respect and care.”

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia with more than 5 million Americans living with the disease. In 2010, more than 120,000 Hoosiers 65 and older were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and that number is expected to reach 130,000 by 2025.

A special judge in Cass County has ordered the city of Peru to rehire an officer who was dismissed from the police department for using excessive force after he shocked an Alzheimer’s patient with a stun gun last June.

Officer Greg Martin appealed his firing by the Peru Public Works Board and the police chief. The city is now appealing the judge’s order to reinstated Martin.

James Howard was a patient at a Peru nursing home when he became combative early in the morning. The staff called police, and when Martin and other officers arrived, witnesses said Howard continued to struggle.

That’s when Martin applied his Taser three times to Howard. The incident happened in June 2012.

“There’s no way they should’ve ever called the police into the nursing home,” said Howard’s wife Virginia, who broke down when she found her husband crying and handcuffed in the hospital after the incident.

“You’ve got the nursing home, the staff, the police. They were all wrong. Dispatch 911, asking if you need the police. They should know better. It was just wrong all the way around,” she told Fox 59.

Mayor James Walker said the city found Martin guilty of using “excessive force.”

“We don’t think anybody should go through that much tasing,” Walker told Fox 59. He said Howard was stunned three times for a total of 30 seconds during the 65-second incident.

Special Judge James Maughmer was assigned to the case.

“Howard had been inappropriately medicated,” Maughmer wrote in his ruling. “Howard was in an agitated state, huffing, mad, fists balled up, wildly swinging and kicking…trying to hit people. No one (told) Martin that Howard was an Alzheimer’s patient.”

Maughmer found the police chief fired Martin based on the alleged violation of a training manual that Peru police did not use.

“The record contains no evidence to corroborate Peru’s finding that Martin used excessive force,” Maughmer wrote.

“I’m hoping that it’s not over and that he doesn’t get his job back,” said Virginia Howard. “There’s a lot in there that doesn’t even match with the transcript testimonies so I don’t think he read through it. I think he slacked up on his job and that’s why he made the wrong decision.”

Howard supports the mayor’s decision to take the case to the Indiana Court of Appeals.

“I’m glad they’re appealing it and I hope they fight hard,” she said. “Nobody wants a police officer like that on their force.”

Howard said in her research that she couldn’t find any other incidents when a police officer used a stun gun on a combative Alzheimer’s patient in a nursing home. She has received a settlement from the city of Peru and is suing the nursing home.

Howard’s case led to legislation recently approved in the Indiana General Assembly to provide more training for police officers in dealing with Alzheimer’s patients.

Indiana House lawmakers have voted to provide officers with more training to make sure stun guns are never used on Alzheimer’s patients.

After a 96-0 vote, the measure now moves to the Indiana Senate.

The bill was created with James Howard in mind. Last June, the 64-year-old was injured after police were called to Miller’s Merry Manor nursing home.

An officer shocked him with a stun gun five times, despite being told that Howard has Alzheimer’s and can’t follow orders.

The police officer was later fired but is appealing that decision.

Howard’s wife has filed suit against the city and the Peru Police Department.

A Peru Officer who shocked an Alzheimer’s patient with a stun gun has lost his job.

City officials fired Officer Gregory Martin Friday.

Last month, Peru Police Chief Steve Hoover recommended that Officer Martin be terminated following an internal investigation.

Officer Martin used his stun gun to shock James Howard five times during a June 17 incident.

Police were originally called to the Merry Manor Nursing home after Howard became “combative” and “struck several employees.”

Howard’s wife, Virginia, said police were told her husband has advanced stage Alzheimer’s and cannot interpret or follow orders but Martin still shocked James.

Virginia Howard has filed a lawsuit against the city of Peru and its police department.

The wife of an Alzheimer’s patient who was shocked with a stun gun five times wants to hold police and the city responsible.

Virginia Howard has sued the city of Peru and its police department.

On June 17, her husband, James, was stunned by Peru Police Officer Greg Martin while another officer held him down at Miller’s Merry Manor.

When we spoke to Virginia last month, she told us she was still haunted by how her husband was treated.

“I can’t sleep. I wake up because I hear him screaming because I felt nobody was there to protect him nobody helped him.”

Virginia’s lawsuit is looking for monetary damages to compensate her and her husband’s losses.

The officer accused of using the stun gun is currently trying to keep his job with the city.

An officer with the Peru Police Department who was investigated for using a stun gun on an Alzheimer’s patient in June could be fired, after the police chief recommended he be terminated Monday.

Peru Police Chief Steve Hoover recommended to the Peru Public Board of Works that Officer Gregory Martin be terminated after an internal investigation into the incident was completed.

In the early morning hours of June 17, police arrived to the Miller’s Merry Manor Nursing Home in reference to 64-year-old James Howard, who has an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s.  According to the police report, nursing home staff called 911 around 4:45 a.m. after Howard became “combative” and “struck several employees.”

Officers reported Howard did not listen to several of their commands, so one of them fired a stun gun at him. The report said officers “Tased” Howard three times despite, according to his wife, being told that he has advanced stage Alzheimer’s and cannot interpret or follow orders.

Fox59 spoke with Howard’s wife of 45 years, Virginia Howard, following the incident.  She said she was getting ready to take her husband out for a Father’s Day, when she got the call saying he was in the hospital.  When she arrived to the hospital, she said she found her husband badly bruised and bleeding in the emergency room. Additionally, she reported some of the skin on Howard’s left hand was torn by the handcuffs officers used.

Officer Martin has been with the police force for seven years.

Several Peru Police Department Officers are under investigation about why they fired a taser multiple times on an advanced stage Alzheimer’s patient early Sunday morning.

Virginia and James Howard have been together since they were teens.  Married for 45 year, James’ Alzheimer’s diagnosis more than a decade ago was devastating.

“Nightmare, I lost my best friend.  We worked together. We did everything together,” said Virginia.

She placed James at the Miller’s Merry Manor Nursing Home a few months ago. She thought he was safe there until she got a call Sunday morning.

“I was getting up to take a shower to go take him out for Father’s Day breakfast. I got a call at 6 o’clock saying they were on their way to the hospital with him. He’s had an episode.”

When Virginia arrived at the hospital, she found her 64-year-old husband badly bruised and bleeding in the ER.

“I walked in, he was in handcuffs. He was bleeding, and was just sitting there crying. (He) wasn’t fighting anybody, he wasn’t doing anything. He just reached his arms out, I hugged him and we just cried.”

According to the police report, nursing home staff called 911 around 4:45 a.m. after James became quote “combative” and “struck several employees.”

Officers said James didn’t listen to several of their commands, so one of them fired a taser gun at him. The report said officers “tased” James three times despite, according to his wife, being told that he has advanced stage Alzheimer’s and cannot interpret or follow orders.

Virginia said she feels guilty any of it happened.

“I let him down. I promised him I’d be there for him and I let him down. I promised him he would never be hurt and I let him down.”

In addition to bruises, some of the skin on James’ left hand was torn by the handcuffs officers used.

Police said the officers involved, three according to Virginia, are under investigation. At least one of them is on administrative leave pending the outcome of that investigation.

Virginia Howard said there can be only one outcome.

“I want them fired. I want them never to be able to walk into a nursing home, and hurt another person, an innocent sick person that can’t defend themselves.”

Peru Police won’t comment on the incident or the investigation. Howard is already talking to attorneys.

Miller’s Merry Manor released the following statement Tuesday:

“Unfortunately, we are not at liberty to discuss anything related to our residents or employees without potentially violating HIPAA or other privacy regulations. The police investigation is an internal issue with the Peru Police Department.  Miller’s Health Systems will fully cooperate with any investigations.”

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