Marin Co. man suing police after bodycam video shows him getting tased, arrested during seizure

WARNING: The following content may be disturbing for some viewers

Thursday, April 4, 2024
Marin Co. man suing police after body cam shows assault during seizure
A Bay Area couple filed a lawsuit in Marin County against authorities, alleging an officer assaulted a man having an epileptic seizure.

MARIN, Calif. (KGO) -- A Marin County man is suing police claiming officers assaulted him while he was having an epileptic seizure.

ABC7 News Reporter Luz Pena spoke to the victim's attorney who said police tased the man and then tried to cover up their response.

In the middle of the night on Aug. 29, 2022, Alice Frankel woke up to her husband having an epileptic seizure. She called 911 for help. The first to respond was a Central Marin Police Authority officer.

WARNING: The content in the player above may be disturbing for some viewers

"He is unconscious," said Alice Frankel to the officer as he tried to arrest Bruce Frankel.

In the bodycam video, Bruce can be seen disoriented and struggling to communicate.

In the background, his then fianceé -- now wife -- yells to police trying to explain that Bruce was not able to comprehend and needed help.

Two minutes or so into the struggle the officer threatens Bruce.

"Stop fighting. Do you want to get tased? Put your hands behind your back," said the officer.

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A minute later, Bruce was tased.

"Sir, you are going to get tased. You are going to get tased," said the officer.

The officer accuses Bruce of playing with him.

"I'm trying to get him in cuffs. He has been playing with me. Get on your stomach," said the officer.

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Today, the couple is filing a lawsuit against the Central Marin Police Authority and the officers accused of assaulting Bruce.

"Instead of getting help they got what turned out to be a police caused catastrophe. They led with force instead of coming in and trying to do some fact-finding -- instead of figuring out what was going on," said Craig Peters, trial attorney and partner at Altair Law.

After EMTs and other officers arrived, bodycam video captured an officer acknowledging that Bruce was having a medical episode earlier.

"I was trying to control him, because it just seemed like a medical aid more. He has something going on," said the officer.

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While Bruce was being treated officers agreed on the police report:

"Yeah what do you think? Medical only and we do the report? Yeah. There is nothing criminal here. No, I don't think he is competent to commit a crime," said one the officers.

But minutes later, Alice was given a different story.

"We are going to issue him a citation instead. As of now my plan is to issue him a citation for battery on a police officer as oppose to taking him to jail," said one officer.

Alice challenged the officer: "I mean, he is not conscious. Why the citation?"

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The officer said, "In lieu of taking him to jail."

Now the couple's attorney is accusing police of a cover-up.

"The police engaged in a cover-up and then accused poor Mr. Frankel of all kinds of things. Most of which he couldn't even defend himself of, because he was having an epileptic seizure. They accused him of being violent towards his wife -- which never happened. They accused him of resisting arrest -- which didn't happen. Because you have to have a particular mental state in order to even engage in that," Peters said.

In a statement Chief. Michael A. Norton with the Central Marin Police Authority said:

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"The Central Marin Police Authority regrets that Bruce Frankel has elected to pursue litigation against us for an alleged improper emergency medical response to him by its personnel on August 29, 2022. As much as we would like to, the Authority by law is precluded from commenting upon medical and personnel matters that are deemed confidential and private. However, the Authority will vigorously defend itself against this meritless and factually inaccurate litigation which has not even been served upon the Authority as of yet. Unfortunately, this individual has decided to first litigate his case in the media rather than in court, where we are confident the action of our officers will be vindicated.

During the duration of this case, the Authority will have no further comment upon this matter. The Central Marin Police Authority would like to thank the public for its continued confidence in our dedicated employees who each and every day make the safety and medical well-being of our citizens their highest priority. Our core values continue to include compassion, integrity and responsibility, and we always will strive towards excellence in providing the highest level of public service to everyone in our community."

According to the Frankel's attorney, Bruce suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery, an injured elbow, nerve damage in his wrists and facial scarring.

Peters said the Frankels want to hold police officers accountable. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from the Central Marin Police Authority.

The lawsuit documents can be viewed here.

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