John Harmon, a diabetic who owns a marketing company, was pulled over after low blood sugar levels made him swerve into another lane. The sheriff's deputies smashed his window, Tasered him, and charged him with resisting arrest. Now he's suing.
Harmon, "a tall and burly black man," in the words of The Cincinnati Enquirer, was commuting from his downtown Cincinnati office to the mostly white Anderson Township, where he'd recently moved. His blood sugar levels were low, and after swerving into the next lane, he was pulled over by two sheriff's deputies.
According to the lawsuit Harmon filed with his wife, Deputies Ryan Wolf and Matthew Wissel approached Harmon's 1998 Ford Expedition, Wolf with his gun drawn. In an interview with the Enquirer, Harmon described the experience:
"The deputy's face was extremely contorted, he was screaming," Harmon said. "I remember being taken aback, recoiled and thought, 'What's going on?' I was being presented with pure evil, it was a chilling experience."
Wolf smashed the driver's side window.
Wissel shocked Harmon with a Taser for the first time. Deputy [John] Haynes responded to the deputies' call for backup.
Harmon said the officers tried to yank him out of the SUV, but he was caught in his seat belt. He was stunned with a Taser again.
Eventually, Harmon's seat belt was cut, and he was pulled from the vehicle, "thrown on the ground, kicked in the head by a boot, and stomped mercilessly." He received five more Taser shocks. How bad was the attack? A State Highway Patrol officer who stopped separated Wolf from Harmon twice "because of Wolf's abusive treatment." When paramedics were called (upon the discovery of Harmon's diabetic kit) they found his blood sugar level "dangerously low"—and yet Wolf filed charges. After Harmon's release from the hospital, he spent five hours in a holding cell.
The sheriff's department, prompted by a call from the highway patrol, investigated the incident and declared it "excessive use of force" and "unacceptable behavior." The fact that charges were filed was regarded as "inappropriate to say the least." Haynes was suspended for 10 days; Wissel for five; and Wolf—who had to be separated from his "suspect" by a fellow law enforcement officer—only two. Their boss was suspended 10 days for authorizing the charges.
Harmon, for his part, is suing the sheriff's department for an unspecified amount. He believes the attack was racially motivated, and thinks it's "disturbing" that the deputies weren't fired. His doctor says he may eventually need shoulder and elbow replacements, and his medical bills amount to nearly $100,000.