Sunday, June 21, 2009

Brian Cardall Dies After Being Tasered

Brian Cardall, an expectant father for the second time, was tasered by police after wandering along a Utah highway. He was a recently diagnosed bipolar patient who didn’t exhibit many symptoms of his disorder. But that night he was in a fairly confused state on the way back from a wedding party. His pregnant wife, Anna, said that Cardall had been under high stress due to his pursuit of a Doctora degree after winning a competitive scholarship at Northern Arizona University. The couple had pulled off the highway so that he could take medications. While in a confused state, Cardall decided to leave the car, remove his clothes and began walking in the middle of the highway. He was screaming unintelligible words. Anna called 911 to get help in getting him off of the highway.

When police responded, they apparently saw Cardall as a threat at one point in the confrontation. According to analysis of the 911 tapes and statements made by the officer at the scene, Cardall refused 42 seconds-worth of verbal commands to lay down on the ground. That is when the officer decided to use the taser. His account says that even after he went down, Cardall still came at the officer. He tasered him again. Although emergency medical technicians immediately came to the aide of Cardall, he subsequently died from the electrical shocks.

While there is little doubt that Cardall did not obey the officer’s commands and may have posed a threat to motorists and others while in his confused state, this could speak volumes as to the need for more training for officers dealing with suspects that have mental health issues. The officer at the scene was put in a very difficult situation. Perhaps, with the Salt Lake City’s crisis intervention training that is supposedly one of the best in the country, the officer could have recognized Cardall’s symptoms. Cardall is heard pleading with the officer not to shoot him. Cardall could also be heard asking for his medicine, and Anna relayed to the 911 operator he had a mental illness. Could that information have changed the officer’s tactics? Instead of instigating further excitement to a man who was asking for help in his confused state, would the officer have been able to calmly talk him off of the road? For now, we will never know.

Officer Bryan Womble Arrested for DUI

A Virginia Beach police officer Bryan Womble is charged with driving under the influence after a crash at the Oceanfront early Saturday morning.

Police said 36-year-old Bryan Womble crashed his vehicle at the corner of 20th St. and Pacific Ave. around 2 am. Nobody was seriously injured, but Womble was charged with DUI.

Womble is a part of the Virginia Beach Selective Enforcement Team that focuses on catching drunk drivers. During an interview with 13News in May 2008, Womble explained why preventing drivers from drinking is difficult.

"It's not an easy task because a lot of them have that mentality that it can not happen, it will not happen to me," said Womble.

Womble arrested former NFL star Bruce Smith for DUI last month. Now the officer faces his own charge.

"It's still a terrible black eye for the Police Department and for police when something like this happens," said Reggie Wade. He's vacationing in Virginia Beach. "You lose faith in the Department and in the system."

"You would think someone would be smarter than that if that's his job," said Beach resident Shane Smith. Smith was convicted of DUI last year in Virginia Beach. said if Womble is found guilty, the officer should be punished.

"I think he should get the same charge as me. Suspend his license, and go through the program and do the inpatient rehab or outpatient rehab," Smith explained.

Womble was booked and released on $500 bond. He is on administrative duty until the investigation is complete.