Mom’s 911 Call for Her Son’s Mental Health Ends With His Death After Police Response


From MedPage Today: “After several hours on the road struggling to keep [Taylor] Ware calm, they stopped at the Interstate 64 rest area in Dale, Indiana. Ware climbed out a window of the SUV, began acting strangely, and would not get back in. He was hearing voices.

[Robin] Rank called 911 — she didn’t know what else to do. She advised the dispatcher that Ware was agitated and would need a ‘safe zone,’ warning that he was likely to resist.

The first officer to arrive was an unpaid reserve marshal from Dale, population 1,500. Christian Losiewski assured Rank he had experience with mental health calls. Rank said she urged him to wait for backup but Losiewski said that wasn’t necessary — his partner, a police dog named Tripp, was by his side.

Ware offered to shake the officer’s hand, then calmly sat in the grass. Tripp started barking aggressively and yanking on his leash. Ware recoiled. It was the type of provocation officers are warned to avoid when seeking to calm people with ‘mental illness.’

Soon after, Ware walked away, and Losiewski followed. Ware ignored orders to stop, then shoved him and ran, the officer would tell others in a scene recorded on video.

The friend who accompanied Ware’s mom, Pauline Engel, said she didn’t see any push, but watched as Tripp attacked at his handler’s command, repeatedly biting Ware in the thigh. As he tried to fend off the dog, backup arrived.

‘I rolled up and that’s when all hell broke loose,’ Officer Robert Bone of the Santa Claus Police Department told others after the encounter, according to his body camera video. Bone put his knee on Ware’s face and used his Taser to shock Ware with its drive-stun feature on the side, stomach, and sternum during the struggle, according to his incident report.

Taser¬†guidelines advise to avoid the chest and neck and limit drive-stuns against people with ‘mental illnesses’ and others unlikely to respond to ‘pain compliance.’ Bone explained the force in his report by saying Ware ignored commands to stop fighting the dog and officers, spat on him, tried to bite him, and grabbed his Taser.

Once officers gained control, they held Ware on the ground and eventually turned him facedown and handcuffed him, according to his autopsy report and cellphone video of the incident obtained by the AP.

An officer yelled toward a paramedic to bring ketamine, a powerful sedative which immobilizes agitated people within minutes but can cause breathing and heart problems.

Soon after an injection, a bloodied Ware stopped breathing and was carried into an ambulance on a backboard. He went into a coma and died days later at a hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.

After the violence, the witness video shows Losiewski telling Ware’s mother that he ‘tried my best.’ She questioned whether they should have just waited and let Ware sit. Losiewski defended his decision to release the canine, calling it a ‘classic, textbook dog deployment.’

Two police practices experts who reviewed the case for¬†AP, Karen Laser and Stan Kephart, rejected that assertion. They said that Losiewski’s decision not to wait for backup and to meet Ware with his dog triggered a chain of events that resulted in an unnecessary death.

Laser said the officer did not have sufficient justification to order the dog to attack Ware, who wasn’t a public safety threat and had not committed a crime until he ‘possibly touched or nudged’ the officer.

. . .¬†Authorities downplayed the police role in Ware’s death.

The state police announced in a press release that Ware died after suffering a ‘medical event’ after he ‘allegedly battered’ an officer. In declining criminal charges, a prosecutor wrote that officers handled the call with ‘incredible patience and restraint’ and ‘great professionalism.’

Police said Bone’s body camera failed to record the incident but captured its aftermath. On that video, Bone and Losiewski recounted how Bone threatened that he would ‘kill’ Ware if Ware bit him during the struggle. ‘I guess I shouldn’t have said that,’ Bone said, laughing.

Bone declined an interview request, saying in an email, ‘It was a traumatic event for all involved.’ Losiewski declined comment.

A coroner ruled Ware’s death was natural, caused by his ‘mental illness’ and ‘excited delirium’ — a disputed condition of life-threatening agitation used for decades to explain the deaths of people restrained by police. The National Association of Medical Examiners said last year it does not endorse the condition as a cause of death.”

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