February 4, 2010

Taser Death: Kelly Brinson (Cincinnati, OH)

45-year-old Kelly Brinson died on January 23, three days after going into cardiac arrest at University Hospital. Family members say Brinson had a history of mental problems and went to the hospital for treatment. They thought he would be safe there.

University of Cincinnati police chief Gene Ferrara calls the case unfortunate and tragic.

Brinson was being led to a room on the 8th-floor psychiatric ward for medical evaluation, and officers say he attempted to assault one of his escorts. After being initially subdued, Brinson “became violent” again in the examination room and officers, security and medical staff attempted to restrain him. The melee included five officers from the division and members of hospital staff and security.

During the struggle, officer Mark Zacharias pulled out his stun gun and attempted to shoot Brinson, but ended up having to situate the Taser manually to make contact with Brinson’s body.

Oh, my God, I cannot believe he is not coming back,” said Brenda Brinson, Kelly Brinson’s sister.

Brenda Brinson said she knew her brother needed help just after the new year. Diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic close to three decades ago, his sister said he told her he had been having bad dreams and overall bad feelings since the holidays. He was feeling suicidal.

Derek Brinson said his brother had been talking about the need to get his medications adjusted. Over the years he had mental setbacks and had been arrested on various charges, ranging from assault to disorderly conduct.

Even so, “He was gentle,” Derek Brinson said.

On Jan. 16, Kelly Brinson punched a wall and broke his right hand at his Mount Airy home. His hand and his ring and pinky finger were put into a cast that went up to his elbow.

Two days later, Kelly Brinson went to University Hospital and asked to be admitted to the psychiatric ward, his sister and brother said.

I knew he was safe and I could rest my mind,” Brenda Brinson said.

The following evening, Brinson’s brother was on a ventilator.

Brenda Brinson said she was told emergency workers spent 19 minutes trying to revive her brother after he was stunned and he never regained consciousness.

The Brinsons said their brother was agitated because his cell phone, which also has a radio, had been taken away from him because he had lashed out at a fellow patient.

He just wanted to listen to the radio,” Derek Brinson said.

Both Brinsons said their brother had calmed down but were told he became agitated again before being shocked. They were also told that he was given sedatives before he was shocked.

He said, “I’m done,” just before going into cardiac arrest, Brenda and Derek Brinson said hospital officials told them in a meeting that also involved police last week.

He was dead Wednesday, I just know it,” Derek Brinson said. “They just kept him alive to try and cover this up.”

Officials of the public safety department at the University of Cincinnati (UC) are maintaining that the UC Police division officers followed proper procedure when subduing a University Hospital patient Jan. 20.

Ferrara said the Taser hit Brinson in the upper leg and hip area. The officer tried using the weapon two more times, but Ferrara said a computer printout that tracks the Taser use through a chip suggest the device locked and only shocked Brinson once.

The Brinsons believe their brother also was hit twice with the Taser in the chest, something police officers have been warned to try to avoid doing since Taser International sent out an alert last fall advising police to avoid shocking suspects in the chest.

We have pictures,” Brenda Brinson said.

What matters most to Brenda and Derek Brinson is that hospital staff and police apparently didn’t try other means, such a straightjacket, to control their brother.

That was his safe place,” Brenda Brinson said of the hospital.

Brenda Brinson said her brother has been seeking help at UC and other mental health agencies for 28 years.

He went there for help,” Brenda Brinson said.

1 comment:

Doctor Reno said...

I've spent 23 years evaluating these cases. I know from personal experience that these thing can be scary (especially where a normal person would understand that continuing to fight--when all they need to do to end the fight is stop resisting) this is doubly scary where the general public have little or no experience with this kind of patient and from the perspective of on lookers the patients actions appear unpredictable and together with the adrenalin pumping the patient can look superhuman--I personally saw one person lift an entire Volkswagen off an accident victim just to try to save that person. If that strength is directed at a doctor or nurse the temptation to end the fight quick is the only thing going through the minds of staff, to avoid any further injuries than they are likely to have sustained in the simple act of restraining one very scary person.
Whether it was suicide by cop or something else the pointless death of a sick man is excruciating to all concerned--careers often end because humans are not made to have this occur and be ok afterwards, in fact, few people ultimately come away healthy and frequently suffer with multiple stress symptoms for the rest of their lives.