Nephew of Justice Thomas Tased and Beaten

From Raw Story:

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is reportedly "outraged" after security guards at a New Orleans-area hospital were accused of punching and tasing his epileptic nephew, a news report states.

Derek Thomas was admitted to West Jefferson Hospital in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, Thursday, after a possible suicide attempt, reports ABC affiliate WGNO.

When the Supreme Court justice's nephew refused to put on a hospital gown and said he wanted to leave the hospital, doctors ordered security to restrain him.

Security guards "punched him in his lip, pulled out more than a fistful of his dreadlocks and tasered him to restrain him," a statement from Thomas' family said.

Best wishes to the Thomas family and I hope his nephew, who suffered massive epileptic seizures after the incident, will be ok. The ABC video report below the fold.


If some of these issues over abuse of Tasers ever gets to the SCOTUS, we hope that Justice Thomas will understand why many think the abuse of what can be a deadly weapon, regardless of what makers of Tasers say, is a serious issue in the area of security and policing and our citizens personal freedom.

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This story leaves a bad taste and too many questions. On the surface, it looks like a lose lose scenario. For me, the pivotal piece of this story isn't the tasing, but the suicide attempt which gets little notice.

What kind of a suicide attempt was it? Were drugs or drinking involved, did he try to throw himself off a roof, slash his wrists, take a knife to his throat, swallow pills...? Was he a danger to himself and/or others? Was he injured, was he being admitted as a psychiatric patient?

Under Louisiana law, what are the obligations of the police and medical personnel to someone who has attempted suicide? What is the standard operating procedure?

If anything happened to Jefferson as a result of not taking him into custody to properly access his mental state, and had he been successful with a second suicide attempt, anyone involved, the police, hospital, etc could have been liable for his death.

While tasing him certainly may not have been the best option, it might have been the only option if he was acting in an aggressive way.

The important part of the story got a pass by the news reporters.

a danger to themselves they will restrain them to begin with. No?

The real problem here is that, apparently, they knew beofre he was tased that he was epileptic. Just a guess but using a taser has to be enough trauma to bring on a seizure:

Taser and disrespect blamed for electrocution of epileptic deacon

By Tomi Morris Johnson


June 4, 2004, Lawrenceville, GA…“What’s going on out here?” was the question asked by many people walking into a mid-day candlelight prayer vigil held in the outdoor courtyard of the Gwinnett County Justice and AdministrationBuilding. Amidst flags and patriotic pillars sat the wife and four childrenofdeceased stun gun victim Frederick Jerome Williams.

Surrounding them were mourners of various ages, lawyers, picketers, journalists, politicians and civil rights activists. The question of “What happened to tasered Fred Williams?” was overshadowed by “Will fairness prevail?”

The focus of the vigil was to demand a comprehensive investigation surrounding the death of Williams, to urge stoppage of nationwide use of stun guns, and to provide racial training to GwinnettCountypolice so they may be better able to serve the community

Seems to me introducing an electrical charge to his body (and causing trauma to by punching him in the head) of an epileptic person is not the brightest idea.


Different mechanisms can lead to the development of a seizure, either immediately after the trauma or later on. At the time of the trauma the brain may lack oxygen due to the pinching of the blood vessels leading to it. This seriously irritates the nerve cells. This lack of oxygen, anoxia, can also be the result of an injury to the chest, which may cause breathing problems, or even cause breathing to stop.

When the brain is hurled against the inside of the scull, blood can ooze out into the spinal fluid or directly into the brain tissue. This greatly irritates the nerve cells. The brain, just like any other part of the body, repairs damaged areas with scar tissue. This tissue is a foreign body to the brain cells, which are irritated by it. Abnormal electrical discharges can result, which can cause seizures.

Epilepsy can begin immediately after the trauma, or first 6 months or many years later.

Seizure types

Many seizure types can occur, but most often they will be simple partial seizures caused by scar tissue in a limited area of the brain. If the temporal lobes are damaged, complex partial seizures can occur.

Generalized convulsive seizures are also frequently seen, presumably caused by a more general brain damage. It is also possible that the damage is more centrally localized, with the inhibitory network of nerves having been put out of action. In a few cases status epilepticus may be seen.

"Now, 'Constable/Security Guard X', before you use that taser have you ascertained the health of your intended victim?"

And even if they have, like in this case the hospital knew, does it matter? It is a dangerous (and deadly) weapon that is being abused when they don't want to use more humane methods to restrain someone.

Overkill and too easily grabbed for stupid reasons. Like the 72 year old lady that was tased a few months ago. WTF danger did she really pose to the officer?

They are abusing it. Look at the footage of the traffic stop. Did he need to tase her to make her do anything?

The lady was stupid, yep. The cop still abused a stupid lady.

It's the suicide attempt - which came before the tasing. There's a huge chunk of this story missing. It's impossible to say whether the tasing was justified or not without knowing about the suicide attempt.

It is and should be a huge chunk of the story... The media might eventually dig into it given the high profile relative. Then again, they might not.