Several news organizations are reporting that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ nephew, Derek Thomas, was tasered at a hospital in Merrero, La., on July 8. Thomas has epilepsy. His family says he went to the hospital after a possible suicide attempt and refused to put on a hospital gown. There was a scuffle and he was subsequently tasered. His family says he suffered a seizure afterwards.
The Epilepsy Foundation is reviewing the matter because of its interest in ensuring proper treatment of people with epilepsy by first responders, security, and police. The use of Tasers to control people having seizures appears to be a practice that is increasing and may be highly risky, in addition to being an inappropriate response to seizure activity. Some people have died while in police custody allegedly because of the methods used to subdue them, including Taser use.
Jeanne A. Carpenter Epilepsy Legal Defense Fund: Legal Guidance and Lawyer Referrals
The Foundation tracks and supports cases involving challenges to dangerous first responder practices through its Jeanne A. Carpenter Epilepsy Legal Defense Fund. The Fund provides legal guidance to individuals experiencing epilepsy-related discrimination or other injustice and their families, along with referrals to a nationwide network of cooperating law offices. Legal assistance may be requested directly through the Fund’s Web site.
Information for Police and Other First Responders
Key Points for Effective Seizure Response
Arrest for Seizure-Related Behavior
Jeanne A. Carpenter Epilepsy Legal Defense Fund