back to article Oklahoma granny sues cops over tasering

An 86-year-old Oklahoma woman is suing the El Reno police department for tasering her in her sick bed, local reports. Lona M Varner's grandson, Lonnie D Tinsley, was visiting granny's apartment on 22 December last year, and claims he called 911 "to request emergency medical technicians to stop by to help her with …


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  1. petur

    It's a sad day...

    ...when police officers can't handle an 86 woman who's in bed. Even if she did pull the knife, blasting her with a taser is still excessive violence.

    1. Anonymous John


      If he phoned 911 for medical help, why did 10 cops show up instead? I think there is more to this than we've been told.

    2. PsychicMonkey

      maybe it wasn't a knife

      maybe it was an incredibly sharp mango...

    3. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge


      If (and it is a *big* if) the police are telling the truth, this might actually be an appropriate use of the Taser (though it pains me to say it). In the event that an elderly person becomes aggrssive, there are few ways to physically restrain an elderly person in an aggressive or confused state without a serious risk of breaking bones. It doesn't matter how frail the old person is, they can still do damage to you or themselves, either deliberately or by accident. It may be that a Taser bolt is a less damaging alternative to physical restraint in this situation.

      However, it becomes too easy for the fuzz to use a Taser instead of talking people down in a civilised manner - it should not be the first resort, ever.

      Also, as noted elsewhwere - WTF were the police doing there when an ambulance had been requested?

  2. Anonymous John

    It's only Monday.

    And we've already had a story crying out for a Playmobil reconstruction.

  3. Bumpy Cat

    Even if you believe the police

    Even if the police are telling the truth, these fine men of the law need to be fired. Immediately. And publish their photos, so we can pass them round the internet as an example of fail.

    Seriously, three (or ten) police cannot restrain a bed-ridden 86-year-old? They have to taser her? And step on her oxygen tube? And taser someone *on oxygen*, ffs? What is wrong with these people?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Re: what is wrong with these people

      They're American policemen. This, together with the fact that it takes a high-school diploma which is often of lesser standard than the British GCSEs s to enter this profession hall tell you everything, with even this requirement being not followed sometimes.

      1. Yannick

        Yeah I've seen a series of documentaries about their training

        It was some kind of police academy.

    2. Wize

      On Oxygen?

      And a nice sparky taser waved around? Lucky she didn't burst into flames too.

  4. Asgard

    No matter what happened and who done what ...

    Its still not justifiable to use a taser on a 86 year old!

    But then Oklahoma is next door to Texas, so sadly gun obsessed police is par for the course in that area. :( ... (if they didn't have tasers would they have just shot her?!).

    What we need is for everyone to be allowed to record their encounters with the police and for the police to be able to record their own actions as they try to arrest/stop someone. That way we can then all get at the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth ... and then have the evidence we need to quickly throw out any bad police. After all, if the police have done nothing wrong, then they have nothing to hide. ;)

  5. JohnG

    911 calls recorded?

    Presumably, the veracity of the grandson's statement concerning his call to 911 can be verified by retrieving the recording. If policemen were sent instead of paramedics or if the recording has gone missing, then the the city will have to explain why.

    Regardless, I think they will difficulty explaining why they felt it necessary to enter an old woman's home and assault them because the she refused to take some medicine. IANAL but I would have thought that any adult (not already the subject of some court order concerning their mental state) has every right to refuse medication.

  6. Code Monkey


    Who the hell are these chimps that can't handle an 86-year-old without resorting to a Taser?

    Stop the world, I want to get off.

  7. Dave Bell


    We have such conflicting stories that somebody must be lying. Some details should be on record--aren't calls to 911 recorded, for instance--and the difference in numbers reported seems more than just confusion. Even allowing for there being an ambulance crew as well (and why didn't the police version mention that), the difference seems too much.

    (Some American cities have emergency ambulance services provided by the police department, but not, apparently, El Reno.)

    The Police version does make sense in some ways. And a knife is a lethal weapon. But the police in El Reno, according to some reports, have a bad reputation for their choices on using a taser. And the grandson's version makes a much better newspaper headline.

  8. Exe

    Fire hazard?

    I wonder, what are the fire/explosion risks of tazering someone on oxygen? I don't think the icon needs explaining.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Even if you believe the fuzz II

    Tasering the woman perhaps implies figuring that if she's trying to commit suicide it doesn't matter if they kill her to save her life? The operation was a success, unfortunately we lost the patient?

    Or maybe like those dregs of humanity in the chopper in Iraq, they figured they had a get out of jail free on a murder charge card.

    1. alwarming
      Paris Hilton


      >Stop the world, I want to get off.

      Careful with the choice of words. They might construe it to be a suicide wish and taser you!

      Paris, coz she could be of help in, in a totally different way, getting off..

      1. Anonymous Coward

        yeah, thanks

        Now i've got coffee all over the place. New keyboard please!

    2. Raumkraut

      No fire hazard

      There was no fire hazard, because they stepped on the Oxygen tube beforehand.

      Them's some quick-thinking coppers.

    3. TimeMaster T


      It wont stop.

      Best we can hope for is to jump when it slows down for a curve.

      Remember to tuck and roll.

      Mines the one with the extra padding.

  10. Kay Tie


    Taser. Oxygen line. Hmmn.

  11. Kevin Johnston

    Remind me...

    wasn't there a plan at some point of installing a 'gun-cam' in all tasers?

  12. mike2R


    We had to taser the granny in order to save her...?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      ....sure saved the hell out of her.

  13. DT

    bad boys bad boys, whatcha gonna do...

    Whilst I'd reasonably expect a cop to be able to deal with pensioner threatening them... how about the "Take a step closer and I'll slit MY throat/wrists" scenario?

    Even a friggin ninja would have a hard job of getting to someone before they cut themselves (if that was the scenario)! ...and since cops don't have friggin throwing stars, a taser would be the logical option. Besides, we know steven segal would have punched her sq'a' in the chops.

    As for what actually happened... I'd neither take the word of the cops, nor that of a sue-happy American (which is why I'd go further- the police should carry audited sound/video recording devices at all times - for protection of both themselves and the public).

    To have this tech available and not use it....

  14. Harry

    "And a knife is a lethal weapon."

    With a *very* limited range, if it is being held by a bed-ridden person. Especially if it was only a kitchen knife. Any supposed "victim" could and should have avoided any consequences by simply moving further away, until such time as the alleged knife holder could be gently persuaded to drop the knife. But bursting in through a door isn't the way to gain the co-operation of a bed-ridden person.

    With or without a knife, pretty much the only excuse for tasering a bed ridden person would be if the person lived in a block of flats and was actively trying to set it on fire.

    Unless that was the case, the officers concerned should be barred from further police duty for life.

  15. Rogerborg

    Please do bear in mind

    That US police forces are not like UK police forces. Over here we have a few huge bloated multi-competency agencies replete with Diversity Coordinators. Over there they have 20,000 (that is not an exaggeration) independent outfits, the statistical majority of which are composed of three guys with guns and tin stars that they bought at WalMart, driving around in a Uncle Ned's old pickup that they done up real purty with official flashing lights and all.

    The wonder isn't that this sort of granny-bashing goes on all the time, but that we're actually hearing about it.

    1. steward

      Actually, 20,000 sounds a bit low...

      In the US, in addition to federal agencies such as FBI, TSA, DEA, Federal Park Police, ATF, and so forth, most counties have a sheriff's department with power of arrest as well as a county prosecutor's office with powers of arrest. Some counties have park police departments separate from the Sheriff's department. Many universities have their own police departments with full legal police authority (see for example ).

      And then there are local (municipality-based) police departments. Just for New Jersey alone - a state so small it could fit entirely into any one of the three biggest counties in California - you can see a list of local police authorities at .

    2. Robert Hill

      WAY TOO LOW...

      If I remember, NYC alone has over 40,000 peace officers, if you include ex-transit cops (since brought into the real police), city police, etc. That is one of the reasons NYC is actually very, very safe in most places (there are always exceptions, but NYC certainly FEELS a whole lot safer than London, for example).

      A total for number of armed police (which is most of them) in the US is probably well into the hundreds of thousands. Remember, these guys grew up shooting .32s in their backyards, graduated to 9mm when they joined the force, have a 12 guage in nearly every patrol car, shoot .308 Magnum rifles to go hunting on weekends, and consider a taser, at best, a playtoy. And compared to what they carry and use most days, it IS...hard concept for Europeans to understand and accept. But that is a huge difference in perspective that you should think about.

      In all fairness, I am awaiting the 911 (US version of 999) call recordings to be made public - my guess is that the son sees a nice payday...OR the police have really messed up. But I just can't fathom ANY 911 dispatcher sending police instead of medical help if there wasn't a real problem during the initial phone call, and probably with the situation overall......

  16. Captain TickTock

    Throw me a frickking bone here guys...

    "more than" $75,000 - is that all they're asking for, for treatment like this?

    Obviously they haven't got Robert Wagner clearing his throat every time they lift their pinkies to the corner of their collective smirking mouth.

  17. Happy Camper

    Never mind the tasering.

    Prompting Duran to "complete an officer's affadavit for emergency detention".

    The officers can now section someone? A bunch of slack jawed weak ass cops that can't handle and 86 year old are now physically able to section someone without any form of medical diagnosis or training.

    Man that country is screwed up.

    1. Boz 1

      Its true

      It's true. There is something fundamentally wrong with how our law enforcement authorities are chosen. It takes nothing more than a General Educational Development, which is considered less than a high school diploma as a drop out can easily obtain one, to be qualified as a police officer.

      Sadly, once enrolled, they are then not even trained nor educated very well within the police academy.

      it is almost frightening when you realize that those that did the bullying in junior high and high school are now the ones assigned to protect us.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Black Helicopters

        It's true...

        More and more, law enforcement officers at all levels are being required to attend a college level police training program ("Police Academy"), particularly for larger departments, say with more than a dozen officers. Some states, California for one, require that all police officers possess a Police Officer Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.) certificate before they can even be considered for a law enforcement position, and have required such for 20-30 years. Apparently Oklahoma doesn't require that, or their police officers were the dregs of their class.

        I'm sure we haven't seen the entire story, but I would be surprised if the officers aren't found at least partially at fault somehow, or found to have violated their training. After all, Granny was a REAL serious risk to ten grown men. IIRC, it's not the first time the El Reno PD has made the news for grossly excessive force

        AC because the black helicopters are circling...

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Get real

    Much as I agree that U.S. pigs have no Bacon, it does seem a little freaking obvious that a suicidal, knife wielding granny is going to get tased! Come on there's her self injury as the only excuse needed. This should be easily proven It the phone call's recorded. No policeman is that dumb. The big unanswered question is where was the doofus son during all this? I'll bet that twit was standing on the oxygen

  19. Gordon861

    True Story

    I'm more inclined to believe the people suing in this case because the money they are asking for isn't like the normal sue-hungry idiots that sue for $15+million for a stubbed toe.

  20. SlabMan

    We don't know all the facts yet.

    She may have been a retired circus knife-thrower. Better safe than sorry

  21. Jerome 0


    I, for one, will save a prayer for Officer Duran. Whilst he's obviously a bit of a wild boy, it seems he just acted on reflex and never had a view to a kill.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Big tough cops.

    I bet their wives and mothers are so proud.

    @AC 13:15

    I'd like to see your attitude if this had happened to your mother.

    I bet you'ld be crying all the way to the tabloids.


  23. Bill Gould

    A proper cop before all the namby-pamby...

    ...touchy-feely bullshit would have instead drawn his gun. Granted they're not allowed to do that now. So they overuse the taser. Can't fault them really. You pull a weapon, regardless of intended use, on a cop expect to be shocked.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The way it sounds to me...

    ... is that the person who took the call got two calls confused and sent the cops to the one they meant to send the medics to, but with the briefing for the call they meant to send the cops to.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    It looks as if UK (un)civil servantry working methods have leaked into the US of A.

    I hope they (the responding officers that is) do not receive a medal for gallantry but lets face it, if all of the CSI and NCIS programs are worth some consideration maybe an 86 year old in bed is a far, far nicer way to complete the shift compared to a super anti-hero with a couple of 9 mm as well as a rapid fire device.

    What did you do today Daddy?


    What did you do today Mommy?

    I toasted an 86 year old in bed with a high voltage taser. You should have seen her wriggle. It made us all laugh (I think she wet the bed too).

    Now then, the bed time story: and the good wolf ate up all of Little Red Riding Hood and shared her bones with his friends Weasel and Stoat. As grandma was a bit bony they needed to use the food in little miss's hamper back just to was down the brittle bones.

  26. JShel
    Black Helicopters

    the real reason?

    I always thought that the taserings are increasing as the good old-fashioned beat down is on the decline. After all it:

    1. doesn't leave those massive bruises that prove what you did after the fact.

    2. is entertaining while your target goes all jiggly

    3. is perfect for the playstation generation - push button to perform an action remotely

    and most importantly,

    4. avoid the physical exertion involved in giving a beat down - keeping the fat on the pigs

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Kitchen knife? Erm, What?

    So i really don't understand...was this a foot-long butcher knife? or a butter knife?

  28. Brian Miller

    Read the police report!

    Says granny, "If you try and get the knife I will stab you and kill you. I killed four Japs in World War II and I would not bat an eye killing you." Officer Duran then stated that he was in fear for himself, the grandson who was trying to talk some sense into granny, and of course granny herself.

    I think the El Reno, OK, police department needs to invest in some training. I just don't know if it should be in geriatrics, knife combat, or creative writing.

  29. Wkd

    Taser Wins

    I think this is a victory for the Taser. if the police who attended really felt that threatened by an 86 year old woman in her sick bed that they had to "Disable" her, Then without the Taser she and probably her grandson would be dead now as they would of shot them with real handguns.

  30. PitChiK

    Nothing New for Oklahoma Cops

    I used to live in Oklahoma. This is nothing new for them, especially in the smaller communities such as El Reno. I remember one time a friend and I were driving from another friends house back to town and we watched as an OK state trooper came towards us (in the opposite direction we were traveling), sped past us, busted a U-Turn and then pulled us over for "speeding." The officer in charge was obviously high on drugs, as his eyes were bugging out and he spoke a million words per minute getting more aggressive with us with each word. I had my shoes off and my friend was a male. The officer held my TX drivers license in his hand and kept asking me my age. I kept telling him I was 20 (as I was at the time) and he repeatedly accused me of having a fake ID. He was trying to get my friend for "statitory rape" since in OK, if a female under 18 is barefoot in a care with an older male, they had to have had sex. He then ripped us out of the car and began searching for "illegal drugs and weapons" and then seized my friends pellet gun. I was forced to sit on blazing hot asphalt cross-legged (and at the time had a circulation condition that I wasn't supposed to).

    Needless to say, when I complained to the troopers afterwards, I was told he was following standard protocol and was outraged! This is nothing new for OK or just about anywhere in the States from my experience. It's quite ridiculous. In addition, OK and TX both have strict limits on how much people can sue law enforcement agencies for, this is why they are only asking for $75,000, I'm sure.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Listen for yourself

    The 911 call is online:

    The grandson asks for paramedics and it's really not clear why they sent police officers.

  32. Viscis

    Smells like a parody.

    Im sure they have nothing in common but maybe the "cops" of El Reno are trying to emulate their counterparts in the comedy show Reno 911?

    Tazing grannies sounds like great script!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Did they try ...

    ... grabbing the blanket or sheet she was laying on and using it as a mild form of restraint on the poor old dear?

    Imagine such a heroic gesture (tackling 4 enemy in WW2 as another contributor observed) only to be tasered by a numpty some 70 years later.

  34. kain preacher Silver badge

    few things

    For you folks out there that says any one with a GED or high school diploma can be a cop in America you are wrong. Remember in America there are state and Federal cops. You are not going to become a federal cop with 2 years of college . Most Cities were in my state requires 2 years of college .

    now for sectioning some one (Involuntary psychiatric hold) that varies from state to state . In my state of California its called 5150 proceeding .

    Section 5150 is a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code (specifically, the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act or "LPS") which allows a qualified officer or clinician to involuntarily confine a person deemed to have a mental disorder that makes them a danger to him or her self, and/or others and/or gravely disabled. A qualified officer, which includes any California peace officer, as well as any specifically designated county clinician, can request the confinement after signing a written declaration.

    This is a 72 hour hold. Rarely does it proceed to 5152 hearing. Thats a 14 day hold and you have to go before a judge .

  35. mhenriday
    Thumb Down

    The old lady

    was obviously a terrorist - in any event, she certainly seems to have struck terror in the hearts of those brave police officers - and she should consider herself lucky that she was only held for six days at a psychiatric ward, rather than being incarcerated for the rest of her natural (duly shortened with a taser blast). Moreover, that grandson should also count his blessings - it is obvious from the article that he had failed in his PATRIOT-Act duty to notify the proper authorities of this dangerous terrorist - calling for medical help simply doesn't cut the mustard ! - and he could have easily found himself joining granny in a maximum security prison....


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