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Friday, February 10, 2012

Why Police Sometime Mistake Insulin Shock For Drunk Driving

Adam Greene Now Hopes What He Endured Will Bring Awareness And Training For All Law Enforcement... by, Jack Swint

On the morning of October 29, 2010, 38 year old Adam Greene was driving to work. Henderson NV Police thought he was driving drunk, but he was having a diabetic attack.

Greene, a diabetic for 26 years, now hopes what happened to him will help bring awareness to the way officers are trained to deal with people suffering from medical conditions. He was severely beaten by an officer when police thought he was resisting a traffic stop. Portions of the incident were captured by dashboard cameras mounted in four Nevada Highway Patrol cruisers.

He is observed on video swerving as he pulls up to a traffic light. His car was approached by a trooper who draws his service weapon, kicks the driver's side window and yells, "Don't move! Hey driver, do not move!" When the trooper opens Greene's door, another officer moved in and placed a handcuff on one of his wrists. At that point, the state troopers, with assistance from Henderson police officers, pull Greene from his vehicle. Greene's four-door sedan rolls forward until an officer stops it.

Five officers force a dazed and confused Greene to the ground. A sixth officer, Henderson police Sgt. Brett Seekatz, is seen kicking Greene in the face multiple times, as one of the officers yells, "Stop resisting, mother fucker. Stop resisting, mother fucker!"

Once Greene is subdued, an officer discovers a vial of insulin on him and announces Greene "could be a diabetic." Moments later, an officer can be heard talking on the radio to a police dispatcher. "He's a diabetic. He's probably in shock, semiconscious." Other officers are heard joking about the incident.

Greene was not charged in connection with the traffic stop. When he arrived at a local hospital, he was treated for low blood sugar and multiple injuries that he said he received during the traffic stop.

Diabetic Shock & DMV Requirements

How can diabetic shock be mistaken for-alcohol intoxication? According to doctors, as the diabetic's blood sugar level drops lower, the organ most affected by the change is the brain. As the brain's functions begin to decrease, the diabetic will become weak and or become abnormally aggressive or uncooperative, could have slurred speech, and could easily be mistaken for being drunk or on drugs.

Like most medical conditions, low blood sugar is easiest to treat when it is discovered early, before it has become true insulin shock. There isn't very much time, because low blood sugar usually develops fairly quickly, over the period of less than an hour to just a few minutes.

According to the American Diabetes Association, most states have a law that requests that people with diabetes present the Department of Motor Vehicles with a doctor's report verifying that they have diabetes, but it is, at best, a request. If diabetics comply, then that information is required to be on the diabetic's driving record and license.

West Virginia’s DMV has a question on all applications (new and renewal) that allows diabetics to designate this information on their license.

Other states, like Georgia, have no restrictions, unless the driver suffers loss of consciousness resulting from diabetes. The driver will then lose his or her drivers license for one year and, in order to be reinstated, must remain episode free during this time.

California's driving restrictions on diabetics are among the strictest in the country. After a diabetic is treated at a medical facility for a lapse of consciousness, even one not involving an automobile, medical personnel are required to notify the state, and a diabetic can have his or her license revoked, even for a first incident. Maryland, may deny a driver license to an applicant with diabetes based on the recommendations of the Maryland Advisory Board.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, people with diabetes controlled by insulin are not allowed to be truck drivers. Thus, even though diabetics may be capable of driving a tractor trailer, they are not legally allowed to do so.

Greene’s Civil Rights Suit Settled

Adam Greene recently settled a lawsuit against the City of Henderson and the state of Nevada. Per the terms of the settlement, Greene will receive $158,000 from the city and $35,000 from the state. Greene's wife will receive an additional $99,000 from the City of Henderson. The $292,500 payout settles a federal civil rights lawsuit Greene filed against Henderson police and the Nevada Highway Patrol. The suit accused the agencies of battery, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

"We think it's fair; we agreed to it and we're satisfied," Greene told KTNV about the settlement. "I was confused, but I wasn't resisting and I would think this would be incorrect and inappropriate behavior whether I was drunk ... or not drunk." He ended up with two broken ribs, cuts, a black eye and bruises.

But for Greene, it's what he doesn't remember that has helped him move forward. "I think it helps that I don't remember it," he said. "I'm far removed from something that was so personal and I think that helps me to forgive them." Despite the ordeal he has been through, Greene, whose father was an Arizona state trooper, said his family does not hold a grudge.

Since the incident, Henderson Police said they've seen a 30 percent decrease in the amount of use of force cases and are also reviewing the way they train their officers to handle these types of situations.

In Closing…

Adam Greene's case, while shocking, is not unique. Alan Yatvin, a legal advocate for the American Diabetes Association and a Philadelphia attorney, said police across the country frequently mistake low blood sugar for intoxication in people with diabetes. A Web search on the issue returns dozens of video clips and stories similar to Greene's. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include shakiness, dizziness, hunger, pale skin, moodiness, aggressive behavior, loss of consciousness and even seizures.

"You need police to be trained in what to look for," Yatvin said. "The problem is, there's no authority over all police departments. Every department has its own procedures, and states have different rules and training regimens."

Spokespersons from the WV State Police, several County Sheriff Departments and local Police departments all state that their officers have been trained to recognize not only diabetic type seizures, but other causes of health issues that can appear as alcohol or drug inducements.

End of Story…

Jack Swint-Publisher
West Virginia News
E-Mail: WestVirginiaNews@gmail.com
Website: http://WVNewsOnline.com
Twitter: @WVNewsOnline
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Links

Video Of Adam Greene Police Stop
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Henderson NV Press Release
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