Carl Leadholm says he’s never had a drink of alcohol in his life. But that didn’t stop him from being pulled over for drunk driving and then tased and pepper sprayed when an officer thought he was being uncooperative.
But the 41-year-old has type 1 diabetes, and he’d left work early that day because he wasn’t feeling well. While driving home, he began experiencing symptoms of diabetic shock. He was weaving and driving erratically, and his behavior was reported to Commerce City police (Commerce City is in Colorado).
Leadholm didn’t immediately pull over when police located him. He says that he was starting to black out and only has limited memories of what happened.
According to police reports, when Leadholm’s SUV was finally stopped, officers “forcibly removed” him from his vehicle and threw him to the pavement. Officers heard Leadhold say, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” and Officer Chris Dickey reported that he curled up in a fetal position and wouldn’t allow himself to be handcuffed.
Officers pepper sprayed Leadholm’s eyes and reported that he continued to resist. One of the arresting officers then hit Leadholm on the leg with a baton and tasered him five times.
“My face looked like it had been dragged on asphalt,” Leadhold told CBS News. He’s had multiple surgeries for resulting injuries and had to have a metal rod inserting into one of his fingers.
One of the officer’s reports noted that Leadholm told them that “he was a diabetic and gets violent when his blood sugar gets low.” Reports also noted they did not smell liquor or notice signs of drug intoxication.
When paramedics arrived they measured Leadholm’s blood sugar at 35. Normal levels are between 90 and 120. After realizing that Leadholm was suffering from the effects of low blood sugar, police still cited him for reckless driving, failing to yield to an emergency vehicle, and resisting arrest—charges that were later dismissed.
Leadhold filed a lawsuit against Commerce City and the police department, and the city will settle for $825,000. Leadholm’s attorney, David Fisher, said that the officers didn’t have adequate training to recognize that Leadholm was having a diabetic episode.
A spokesperson for Commerce City released a statement that said, “The city and its insurance provided opted to resolve this case to avoid the uncertainty and distraction that would result from a trial and potential appeal.”
The incident happened in November of 2014, but the lawsuit was settled in late 2018.
Leadholm now lives in Idaho, but told CBS that the incident has had long-lasting effects including physical limitations and PTSD.
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Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.