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Published: May 12, 2010

On May 12, 2010, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan dismissed a lawsuit filed against Blackman Township and two of its public safety officers, finding that the actions of the public safety officers in subduing the plaintiff for purposes of ensuring medical treatment were wholly justified. Blackman Township and its police officers were defended by McGRAW MORRIS P.C. attorney G. Gus Morris.  On May 20, 2008, Plaintiff Michael Wilson, a life-long diabetic with a history of diabetic seizures started suffering from what his girlfriend suspected to be a diabetic episode while in the parking lot of Westwood Mall. Two Blackman Township Public Safety Officers, both licensed medical first responders, were dispatched to the scene. Mr. Wilson was not cooperating with the officers, which included refusing to stand up and talk, and eventually Plaintiff started swinging and striking one of the officers. EMTs then arrived at the scene, attempted to remove Mr. Wilson from the vehicle, and in response Plaintiff started flailing his arms around again. In fact, one of the EMTs testified that Mr. Wilson closed his fist and cocked his arm back. At that point, the officers immediately grabbed Mr. Wilson, pulled him out of the vehicle, took him to the ground where he continued to struggle, and eventually were able to handcuff him. Mr. Wilson alleged that the officers’ actions amounted to excessive force and false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and assault and battery, false arrest, and gross negligence under state law. Plaintiff also alleged a violation of the American with Disabilities Act and the Michigan counterpart. In dismissing Plaintiff’s claims, the U.S. District Court found that the officers’ use of limited force to remove Mr. Wilson from the car and their decision to handcuff him based on his physical resistance was wholly appropriate and designed to provide him with prompt and efficient medical treatment given his apparent medical condition, which the EMTs indicated could be a life-threatening condition if not treated promptly and effectively. According to Mr. Morris, “this case confirms that public safety officers, when acting in their role as medical first responders, may use appropriate physical actions to protect themselves and the individual in need of medical treatment, and to ensure that the individual obtains the medical treatment they need as quickly as possible.”


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