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[IP] Sad tale--A man with D arrested...
Police need training: diabetic Hopes complaint against officers will 'open a
few eyes' among public
Thu, Dec 28, 2000
By Bruce Owen
A 38-year-old diabetic, who claims two Winnipeg Police Service officers beat
him while he was suffering insulin shock, says police need better training to
recognize people in medical distress.
Kevin Ross filed a complaint against the two officers yesterday with the Law
Enforcement Review Agency (LERA) and is considering filing a second complaint
with the force's internal professional standards unit.
"I think I'm going in the right direction," Ross said. "I told the officers
that I was a diabetic and that I needed help, but they couldn't care less.
"They just thought I was drunk and all they wanted to know was how much I had
to drink. But they should have taken me to the hospital.
"What I hope this does is open a few eyes."
Ross said he was diagnosed at age 15 with type 1 diabetes. That's when the
pancreas produces very little or no insulin. The body needs insulin to convert
sugar into energy.
Ross said he was driving on Portage Avenue with his nine-year-old son last
Friday. He was planning to go to Burger King on Main Street to get something
to eat to raise his blood-sugar level, but got involved in a traffic
When police arrived about 10 minutes later, witnesses told them Ross was
acting weird and possibly drunk.
Ross said when the two officers approached him, he was in the early stages of
insulin shock, a potentially dangerous reaction to low blood-sugar.
"I told them I was a diabetic and that I had a problem, but they said they
wanted to give me a breathalyser test."
Ross said he thought the breath test would be administered in the police car,
and he became agitated when he was taken to the Public Safety Building and his
son taken home by police.
He claims the two officers punched him and twisted his arm, and eventually
handcuffed him to a floor pipe. At one point, he alleges one officer placed
his boot on his head and accused him of being high on cocaine.
"They were keeping me back from what I needed," he said. "A sugar packet would
have been fine, but they were just concerned with how much I had drank."
By being left untreated, Ross said his condition became worse.
"I'm in constant alert about my condition," the Seven Oaks School Division
teacher's aide said. "My alerting police did nothing at all."
Ross was eventually given a breathalyser test, and he blew zero. He was still
charged with impaired driving, but did not have his licence suspended.
Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Const. Bob Johnson said because Ross had
filed a complaint with LERA, he was forbidden by law to comment on Ross's
A LERA spokesman said Ross's complaint will be investigated. If it's found to
be valid, the case could be referred to mediation or a hearing before a
provincial court judge. If found guilty, an officer can be fired, asked to
resign, reduced in rank or be suspended without pay for up to 30 days.
LERA can also refer a case to the Crown if it's believed the accused officer
committed a criminal act.
A source said if the two officers did use force, it was warranted.
Ross said because of his condition, he became argumentative, but not violent.
"If I did what they did to anyone, I'd be charged," he said.
Ross said he wants his complaint to compel police to become more aware of
diabetic reactions, or any other life-threatening disease, so that they don't
waste time before going to hospital.
Johnson said officers get training in first aid, but are not taught how to
recognize or diagnose medical conditions.
He said if there is doubt, officers are supposed to call an ambulance. Ross
said police did not call an ambulance for him.
A spokesman with the Canadian Diabetes Association could not be reached for
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