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.”