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Half-dressed, mentally unstable man fights with Lawrenceville PD officers attempting to take him back to hospital

Posted August 8

— A group of Lawrenceville police officers and Gwinnett fire EMTs attempting to get a mentally unstable man back to the hospital created a scene on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road on Monday afternoon.

The man somehow walked out of Gwinnett Medical Center in nothing but a hospital gown. Lawrenceville Police Department spokesman Capt. Greg Vaughn said Lawrenceville PD got involved when they received at least one 911 call just before 1 p.m. complaining that the man was walking in the middle of Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road near Old Norcross Road.

"Our concern was that he's walking down the middle of the road half naked," Vaughn said. "That's no good. I'm surprised that he didn't get run over."

At first, officers tried to talk the man into going back to the hospital.

"We talked to him a long time - I'd guess 30 minutes at least," Vaughn said. "All we wanted him to do was just go back to the hospital."

But that didn't work. The man sat on the median of the busy road and refused to stand up for police. A few times, he shouted that he hadn't done anything wrong.

"He didn't say that much," Vaughn said. "He said something about us locking him up and we tried to tell him, 'That's not what we're doing. We're not here to lock you up. We're just here to take you back to the hospital."

Eventually, two officers cuffed the man and asked him repeatedly to roll onto his stomach. When he refused, an officer pepper sprayed him. Cars rolled by and a few stopped to stare as the man struggled with police. He was tased a handful of times and pepper sprayed once more before an ambulance arrived on the scene at about 2 p.m.

EMTs sedated the man in order to get him onto a stretcher and into the ambulance.

Vaughn said it wasn't the optimal outcome, but he's glad the incident didn't end in tragedy.

"You can't just let him go," Vaughn said. "You've got to do something. You've got to get that man out of the median."

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