Almost six years ago, state troopers wrestled a Pennsylvania man to the ground because his strange behavior made them think he was drunk or high at the wheel and resisting arrest. NJ.com reports.
The man, Daniel Fried, was in diabetic shock.
On Wednesday, jury selection began in Fried’s lawsuit against the State Police, which claims inadequately trained troopers ignored textbook signs of diabetic distress and treated a man suffering a medical episode as a hostile suspect.
In court papers, the state has denied any wrongdoing. A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office on Wednesday declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The case, Fried’s attorney Aaron Freiwald said, “ultimately comes down to whether a trooper can treat a person who’s having a medical emergency as if the person is drunk or high on drugs.”
Fried, from Springfield, Pa., was found slumped behind the wheel of his van along Route 72 in Burlington County in November 2010.
A television producer who once created a training video for police departments on how to deal with people suffering diabetic distress, Fried told The Star-Ledger in 2012 that State Police did virtually the opposite of what medical experts recommend in such circumstances. .
In the federal suit filed in U.S. District Court in Camden, Fried claims troopers Paul Brown and Scott Tetzlaff violated his civil rights, used excessive force and caused serious injury when they brought him to the ground, hit him with a baton and cuffed him because he was not cooperating during questioning.
In police records and court depositions, Brown said he suspected Fried may have been suffering a medical episode but could not rule out drugs or alcohol.
Attorneys for the state also noted in court documents that Brown did ask Fried whether he wanted an ambulance, which he declined, and claimed Fried gave “contradictory and confusing answers” when asked if he was diabetic.
In police reports, the troopers said Fried was belligerent, refused to remove his hands from his pockets and tried to walk away from the scene, prompting the struggle.
Fried has said because he was in shock he does not remember what happened between the time police arrived and the point he was placed in the back of a squad car.
After Fried’s case became public, state lawmakers passed a bill allowing diabetics to voluntarily disclose the condition in their driving records to avoid such violent encounters with police.
The troopers claimed in court depositions they had received no specific training on how to deal with someone experiencing diabetic shock. A State Police spokesman said Wednesday the division’s training regime does include material on dealing with medical emergencies, but details of that training were not immediately available.
Fried’s attorney said the case highlights the need for police officers to receive comprehensive training on the effects of diabetic shock.
“There’s hundreds of thousands of diabetics in New Jersey and millions more across the country, so we have to make sure they’re equipped to deal with it,” Freiwald said.