Green Room

Nephew of Clarence Thomas Allegedly Beaten, Tased at New Orleans Hospital

posted at 2:56 pm on July 10, 2010 by

Who’s up for another high-profile tasing story?

Derek Thomas, the 24 year old nephew of Justice Clarence Thomas, was admitted to the West Jefferson Medical Center on Thursday.  After declining to put on a hospital gown and requesting to leave the ER, Thomas explained, “The guy asked me, you’re either going to do it or we’re going to tase you.”  According to a local ABC news affiliate:

Before being tased, Thomas says he was punched in the lip and had a fist full of his hair pulled out. To make matters worse, he is epileptic, and says he suffered a massive seizure as he was being tased. His sister Kimberly says he could’ve died. “This was not only put on his chart letting them know he already had a health condition … this should not have happened at a hospital” Kimberly Thomas comments.

Immediately following the incident, Thomas’ sister called her uncle Clarence who will be arriving in New Orleans to investigate and support his nephew.

Multiple sites report that Thomas was admitted for an attempted suicide. Thomas says he intended no self-harm, but instead took too many prescription pills for an impending migraine.  Whatever the case, what latitude does hospital security generally have in subduing a patient if they deny treatment, requesting to leave?  What type of behavior would warrant hair pulling, tasing and punching?  Hospital surveillance cameras, anyone?

Watch the video for more details.

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Good ole New Orleans… I’m sure an apology will be forthcoming. /s

Jeff2161 on July 10, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Oh and, sounds like they are getting started on obamacare early there. You will get what we want to give you. Or else.

Jeff2161 on July 10, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Hospital security should have no latitude unless someone is being forcibly committed – an action that requires a legal order from the coroner or a judge. (In practice, the coroner pretty much agrees with whatever the doctors ask.)

So if they thought he overdosed purposely, it could be that they were in the process of getting an order, that security had been told to keep him there while that was being done, and that poorly trained security stepped WAY over the line. And they are poorly trained. I’ve been in that hospital many times as both a patient and a visitor and security tends to act like bullies.

Laura Curtis on July 10, 2010 at 3:22 PM

Lucky for the hospital, Obama’s DoJ will ignore this incident because the black in question is related to the hated Justice Thomas. Otherwise, they’d be in very big trouble.

erp on July 10, 2010 at 3:24 PM

Good ole New Orleans… I’m sure an apology will be forthcoming. /s

Jeff2161 on July 10, 2010 at 3:04 PM

It’s actually in the ‘burbs, in Harvey, Louisiana, which is in Jefferson Parish. Which is not to say it doesn’t suck. But it does suck less than Orleans.

I will also say, in Thomas’ defense… people who get migraines can tell you – when they feel one coming on, they are almost desperate to prevent it and/or stop it. It would be pretty easy to take one too many doses of meds in that condition – as the pain overtakes you it’s difficult to think clearly.

Laura Curtis on July 10, 2010 at 3:28 PM

This all sounds too fishy to be true. Not sure I believe it. Never been in any ER where this has happened or have heard of same. The only plausible explanation I can come up with, if it is true, is that the pills made him seem drunk or drugged and an imagined danger to himself?

jeanie on July 10, 2010 at 3:33 PM

Happened to me.

I have a condition that causes me to sometimes become temporarily paralyzed on the left side of my body. I’ve gone to the ER for it before only for them to put me in a bed and give me no treatment (since nobody can figure out what causes it), eventually they just tell me to go home and go to bed- and then charge me a bunch of money for it. So eventually I realized that it’s pretty stupid to go to the hospital, as can rest just as well at home.

Anyway, one day this happened to me as I was walking home, so I continued limping home, intending to go to bed and rest when I got there. Then a police officer showed up and seized me and refused to let me go until an ambulance arrived. (It was difficult to talk being half paralyzed). By the time the ambulance arrived the paralyzation had worn off, though I was still tired and weak. I said I wanted to go home and rest. The EM and the police officer refused to let me go, and instead forcibly strapped me to the stretcher and stuck me in the ambulance.

The EM then threatened me, saying that if I didn’t start co-operating he would have me admitted to a psyche ward. He then demanded I sign a paper stating that I requested medical care. I refused, so he marked down that I was “unable to sign” (which is supposed to be used when someone is unconscious).

I was then delivered to the hospital where a nurse was assigned to watch me. They again just stuck me in a bed and left me there with no treatment. Basically they were just imprisoning me.

I managed to use my teeth to get out of my restraints, and snuck out during a shift change. They then had the gall to bill me for $1000 dollars, and to this day have bill collectors hassling me. The police refused to do anything, despite state law specifically prohibiting ambulances from forcing care on someone who rejects it (that’s why they are required to have you sign the paper).

On another occasion when I was paralyzed and still unable to speak they loaded me into the ambulance and when I was unable to answer the EM’s questions he announced that I had ruined his day, and then preceded to repeatedly kick me in the elbow all the way to the hospital.

Whenever someone has power over another person they tend to act in a tyrannical fashion. It’s just human nature. “Good” people do it too, not just bad people.

Sackett on July 10, 2010 at 4:02 PM

Hospital security should have no latitude unless someone is being forcibly committed – an action that requires a legal order from the coroner or a judge…
So if they thought he overdosed purposely, it could be that they were in the process of getting an order

I assumed as much, if it were an attempted suicide/involuntary commitment. But, family members indicate nothing of the sort in testimonies. Odd.

And they are poorly trained. I’ve been in that hospital many times as both a patient and a visitor and security tends to act like bullies.

Laura Curtis on July 10, 2010 at 3:22 PM

Interesting. How so?

Bee on July 10, 2010 at 4:12 PM

(In practice, the coroner pretty much agrees with whatever the doctors ask.)

I thought coroners were only useful after you no longer needed medical treatment.

Jeff2161 on July 10, 2010 at 4:17 PM

erp on July 10, 2010 at 3:24 PM

you would be correct

cmsinaz on July 10, 2010 at 4:31 PM

Bee on July 10, 2010 at 4:12 PM

For example: The doctor was releasing my mother after a heart attack but wanted to know someone was going to be helping her. So standard procedure – I needed to sort of “report in” with the nursing station and hear the discharge orders when they told them to my mom, help pack her up, then transport wheels mom and flower cart down to the lobby while I get the car and meet them in the little patient loading section by the front door. She’s not in good health and I’ve been through this process many times.

Facing the hospital, there is the main building on the left, and a physicians building on the right, with a parking lot in front of each. The parking garage is in the back, and to get to the main building from the parking garage, you have to walk WAY around through the physician building. It’s a hike. Because I have bursitis and was having a lot of trouble getting around, rather than use the parking garage, I was slowly circling the front parking lot waiting for a space there. Evidently this raised the ire of the security guard, who told me I needed to stop it and go park in the garage. When I objected and tried to explain my situation, he cut me off and told me either I was leaving the lot or he’d arrest me. (Which, as far as I know, he had no right to do; at best, he could detain me while he waited for the real cops, JPSO, to arrive.) I wasn’t speeding or driving recklessly in any way. No idea what I did to provoke him.

I’ve experienced a fair amount of petty bullying like that, and I know others who have as well. Evidently it’s just part of the WJ culture to be bullying @ssholes, because I’ve had some really bad experiences with nursing and clerical staff there as well. As much as possible, we use Ochsner.

Laura Curtis on July 10, 2010 at 4:55 PM

erp on July 10, 2010 at 3:24 PM
cmsinaz on July 10, 2010 at 4:31 PM

No idea whether this is done in other states or not, but in Louisiana the coroner is an elected official, and he has certain legal powers including issuing Orders of Protective Custody and Coroner’s Emergency Certificates, which compel inpatient psychiatric evaluations. The psychiatrist decides when to let you out.

Laura Curtis on July 10, 2010 at 5:05 PM

I pray and think they will get to the bottom of this. Whatever the facts are, let them go before the ‘court’ to deal with this.
L

letget on July 10, 2010 at 6:36 PM

Sackett on July 10, 2010 at 4:02 PM

I’m so sorry to hear this. Would a medical alert bracelet help? Something along the lines of “partially paralyzed and speech difficulty” that you could wear at all times and just hold up during emergencies?

Laura in Maryland on July 10, 2010 at 6:49 PM

I’m waiting on the Panthers to protest this. Still waiting.

*crickets*

Laura in Maryland on July 10, 2010 at 6:50 PM

I’m waiting on the Panthers to protest this. Still waiting.

*crickets*

Laura in Maryland on July 10, 2010 at 6:50 PM

They’re waiting for the NAACP to determine his “qualifications,” I assume.

Bee on July 10, 2010 at 7:05 PM

Damn its a small world.

I used to work with Kimberly Thomas at a loan servicing company in Baton Rouge. She worked in our legal dept while she was attending Southern University Law School.

I hope her brother is doing OK. It shouldn’t matter who’s nephew he is, I don’t think tazing someone who’s been admitted to a hospital is a good idea.

Lay-Z on July 10, 2010 at 10:59 PM

I also refuse gowns. And I would prefer to crawl over broken glass than be admitted into the hospital.

But, after an OD, the hospital is required to determine if he is a threat to himself before they can release him. If they were not sure, they may have a legal right to detain him.

Also, if he had a seizure, he may have been combative and out of it. I’ve had to duck a few times when coming to the aid of a person who had a seizure.

Blake on July 11, 2010 at 12:38 AM

I don’t know the law in Louisiana, but in California with probable cause a police officer, a doctor, or a PET team (mobile psych team that does evaluations) can take someone into custody and hospitalize them for a 72 hour evaluation. No court order is required. It’s called a 5150.

If the doctor said detain him, the security guards had the right to detain him.

Blake on July 11, 2010 at 12:48 AM

Due to my libertarian nature, I have great suspicion about the benevolence of authorities like the ones depicted here. I want to add one comment, which is probably non-PC:

The interview with the brother/sister was impressive from at least one standpoint — they spoke in standard ‘whitebread’ English. In my opinion, it adds greatly to their credibility. They did not try and play ‘the race card’, but argued strictly from from an injustice standpoint. I am in their corner. The exercise of what I call ‘petty power’ is far too common in today’s society.

Our common language and our Constitution are two of the main things that bind us all together. It is not our race, creed, color, sex, religion, or politics that make Americans unique.

My intent on posting this is not to offend but to make people think.

GnuBreed on July 11, 2010 at 1:37 AM

Treatment standard: you’re going to stay and be cured if it kills you!

SilentWatcher on July 11, 2010 at 1:55 AM

Blake on July 11, 2010 at 12:48 AM

Thanks for your insight! I assumed this entire snafu was part procedural, part overreaction by the security guards (see Laura C’s personal encounter).

Thomas seemed lucid, both in the hospital (see raw vid footage in the first link) and in subsequent interviews. I wonder why he wasn’t aware of this at the time of admission, unless it were involuntary? All of my hospital stays have been pretty straight forward, so this situation is strange to me.

Bee on July 11, 2010 at 6:18 AM

GnuBreed on July 11, 2010 at 1:37 AM

I never met Kim’s brother but Kim is a very well spoken and intelligent young lady. She only mentioned once that her uncle is Clarence Thomas and didn’t act like she demanded special treatment because of who her uncle was.

She’s told me once that she despises ambulance chasers, saying it makes the law profession look bad.

Lay-Z on July 11, 2010 at 10:20 AM

Whenever someone has power over another person they tend to act in a tyrannical fashion. It’s just human nature. “Good” people do it too, not just bad people.

I had the same experience with my ex that had seizures. It was difficult to let people finally understand that it was better for us to get him home to rest than go through the expensive experience at the hospital, only to be told to “see his doctor”, as if that was going to “cure” his difficult to manage siezures. We were at the doctors all the time trying to find a cocktail of seizure meds that would work.

A young man at my work had a seizure a couple of years ago. As they knew he had seizure disorder, I explained, even though the seizure was terrifying everyone else, that as this was a known condition, to try and get a hold of his family and see what they would want to do. As it was, his wife that had been through what I had, said that she would come and pick him up and take him home.

My ex wasn’t so lucky just the very next week and as far as I know, is still having to pay for the ambulance bill. And yes, the hospital stay went the same way. There is nothing they can really do to change a chronic condition that is having an acute event. They can only, in the end, tell you to go to the doctor.

Once ambulances come, you are almost stuck, because their mindset is that they “have” to do something. It has been hard to convince them that we would rather take my ex home and just get him quiet, comfortable and let him rest through that.

Noelie on July 11, 2010 at 10:29 AM

Waiting to hear all the facts, but if true, something tells me this isn’t the first time the hospital has done this, if they did it so quickly this time. Someone’s about to have a gigantic shitstorm named Clarence Thomas coming down their door. They’ll wish they’d just let that kid go.

jimmy the notable on July 11, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Someone’s about to have a gigantic shitstorm named Clarence Thomas coming down their door.
jimmy the notable on July 11, 2010 at 3:05 PM

He’s kind of a big deal. :D

Bee on July 11, 2010 at 3:11 PM

Bee on July 11, 2010 at 6:18 AM

I have no idea whether or not the guards over reacted without hearing their view of what happened. I have no idea when those videos were taken. The story says he was taken to the ER Thursday afternoon. It seems the tape was shot the following day. Why wouldn’t he be lucid? I thought I read that he had a seizure before he came to the hospital. Maybe not. I doubt being tazed in the back would cause a seizure. He mentions that the doctor came in to the room before the incident and explained “the whole process and procedures” what ever that means. The only reason why they insisted he put on a gown was because they meant to hold him.

He says he can’t leave. However, if he was on a psych hold, I doubt he would be allowed so many visitors.

As mentioned, other people having power over you can be frightening. And even though I think those in the psych profession often abuse their power, if he attempted suicide, he has no one else to blame but himself for being detained.

He and his family are a little bit too sue happy for my taste.

Blake on July 11, 2010 at 4:52 PM

I’m pretty sure New Orleans has been dragged into this spectacle merely because those of you who live in Rio Linda can’t find Marrero on a map. I’ve done the work for you, not because I like you, but because I enjoy decreasing the amount of ignorance in the world, however fractionally. Here is West Jefferson Medical Center plotted on Google Maps.

Kralizec on July 11, 2010 at 11:25 PM

Kralizec on July 11, 2010 at 11:25 PM

How generous of you! You definitely have your work cut out for you since it appears the entire internet is wrong. :)

I already looked at the map to verify where the hospital was. Most sites (including local) indicated that West Jeff was a New Orleans hospital. I assumed it was something specific to the region and went with it. If you think it will clarify things, I can change it.

Bee on July 12, 2010 at 3:10 AM

the entire internet is wrong.

Heheh, that’s the story of my life…

Laura Curtis on July 12, 2010 at 8:33 AM

Laura Curtis on July 12, 2010 at 8:33 AM

A personal favorite!

Bee on July 12, 2010 at 9:09 AM

Let’s acknowledge the liability situation under which the hospital operates. If a patient presents with an overdose, the hospital MUST ensure that the patient isn’t a danger to him or herself before discharge. The very least they will have to do after physically stabilizing the patient is toorder a psych evaluation. Otherwise the sharks lawyers who circle the building day and night will be bringing suit should the patient then go on the hurt him/herself or someone else. This isn’t the same as someone presenting with a belly ache opting to leave against medical advice.
Not having been there I have no idea what transpired between security and the patient, but, once having presented, a patient under those circumstances isn’t free to go. By seeking treatment they identified themselves as potential treats to public saftey as well as their own. The hands of the ER docs are pretty much tied at that point.
Of course, this doesn’t address whether or not security overreacted. We’d need to see some video.

mugged on July 12, 2010 at 1:02 PM