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Durham deputy cleared of roughing up man with Alzheimer's

Posted July 14, 2010

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— The Durham County Sheriff's Office has found no wrongdoing by a deputy following an incident last month in which an elderly man with Alzheimer's wound up in a hospital.

Justo Santander, 78, wandered away from home on June 22. He later showed up outside a home more than 12 miles away, startling the homeowner, who called 911.

When the deputy, whose name hasn't been released, confronted and questioned Santander, authorities said, the man mumbled and seemed confused. He also refused to drop an item he held in his hand.

Santander and the deputy scuffled as the deputy tried to handcuff him, and Santander suffered a black eye, a cut on his face and bruised shoulders, neck and ribs.

Sheriff's Capt. Donald Ladd said an internal investigation determined that the deputy didn't violate the department's use-of-force policy.


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  • ForTheLoveOf Jul 16, 2010

    For those of you being critical, and armchair-qbing the deputy, have you ever TRIED to talk to a mentally-impaired person or aggressive person? They can go from calm to berserk in an instant. If you've never had to struggle with an elderly person then you don't know that they can be just as strong when they go ape-crazy as any "average-aged" person. You also don't know how long the deputy tried to rationalize with this man. While the deputy is wasting time trying to talk to the possibly limited-English speaking, mentally impaired man, a hundred other things could be going on that require more immediate attention. Please, if you can do the job better, go apply. Let me know if you get in the first time, too. If you make it, let me know how it goes trying to talk to someone who has no respect for you and convince them not to fight despite the fact that they hate everything you represent... Then, come back on here, and read all the negative comments about you and your bros and sis'

  • H8R Jul 15, 2010

    Thank You Durham LEO for protecting my rights as a tax paying citizen.

  • EricaSliver Jul 15, 2010

    Great to hear...deputy did exactly what he was supposed to do in this situation.

  • Lougrantstwin Jul 15, 2010

    I also have a parent with Alzheimers. They are extremely strong and you cannot reason with them if they are scared. The Officer did do his job, he had no idea what was in the man's pockets or hands. He was a danger to hisself and others. Better to stop him than let him keep wandering. My opinion the family is responsible on this one.

  • blackdog Jul 15, 2010

    "Police officers don't have the luxury of having a few minutes to determine the situation. Alot of their situations require split second decisions that mean life or death. But at least you can have the luxury to monday morning quarterback from the safety of your officer or home."

    Unless there is a couple of pieces of foam pipe insulation, with a bungee cord attached to it laying beside the road. Then you can shut down a major transportation artery for hours, while deputies shoot themselves with M-16's.

  • Centurian Jul 15, 2010

    OK, he's been cleared of any wrong-doing.

    (1) the lawsuits will be filed
    (2) the media while dredge it all up again
    (3) the activists will jump for the spotlight / bully pulpit
    (4) the county's insurance company will settle for a few thousand bucks to avoid litigation costs
    (5) deputy goes on with his career
    (6) alleged victim's family pockets some meager spending cash (7) lawyers get majority of the settlement and legal fees and keep getting richer!

    Only in America!

  • Duke _Nukem Jul 15, 2010

    you stated....It's so much easier to taze and beat down someone than to take a few minutes to determine the situation with rationality isn't it?

    Police officers don't have the luxury of having a few minutes to determine the situation. Alot of their situations require split second decisions that mean life or death. But at least you can have the luxury to monday morning quarterback from the safety of your officer or home.

  • ncmedic201 Jul 15, 2010

    LifeisaJourney, all the responsibility on this lies with the family. I'm sure if it was your grandfather you would have reported him missing. Some of you act like just because someone has Alzheimers they are weak and crippled. They are confused and usually combative. They can also be quite strong. I'm sure this officer didn't just take the man down without attempting numerous times to get the man to drop what was in his hand. Maybe I look at it differently since I have had an Alzheimers patient answer the door with a gun in his hand, unattended by family and very confused!! When you are put in this situation then I'm sure you would think differently too!

  • Boogalooboy Jul 15, 2010

    Other reports leaned towards the confusion/demensia this guy may have had. Maybe the issues should be with his caretakers. As bad as it sounds, an older person with possible mental disorders or a young child can pull a trigger. Sounds as if the article may have implied the officer thought he had a weapon.
    So what would you do on the other end of a weapon ??? Wait and See... think not...not a pleasant job all the time but the officer had to do what he had to do..with the limited info we have

  • LifeisaJourney Jul 15, 2010

    "He was only doing his job." This statement always perplexes me. I suppose if this can be used as an excuse for bad and abusive behavior then the men who ran the concentration camps in WWII can be excused because they "were only doing their jobs" or "they were only following orders". Where do you draw the line and expect someone to have some amount of personal responsibility for their behavior?

    What I see is our police forces adopting a para-military style. They are care less about "serve and protect" than they do about domination. They use force frequently and with impunity.

    My Grandmother had Alzheimer's and my Grandfather developed dementia. It doesn't take a genius IQ for someone to recognize when an elderly person is mentally impaired. This deputy should have been more sensitive to the special handling needed by these older people. How would you like it if your sick Grandfather was treated like this man?