HENDERSON, NEVADA – Adam Greene is on his stomach as a pack of police officers pile on him, driving their knees into his back and wrenching his arms and legs. One officer knees him in the ribs; another kicks him in the face.
“Stop resisting,” officers on the video yell, but Greene, his face pushed into the pavement, hasn’t resisted. He doesn’t even move — maybe can’t move — because he’s gone into diabetic shock caused by low blood sugar.
The video, recorded more than a year ago by a police car dashboard camera, was released Tuesday by Greene’s lawyers. The same night, the Henderson City Council approved a settlement of $158,500 for Greene. His wife received $99,000 from Henderson, which is just under the minimum amount that requires council approval.
Nevada Highway Patrol troopers also participated in the traffic stop but do not appear to kick or knee Greene on the video. The state has agreed to pay $35,000 to Greene for a total of $292,500 between the two agencies.
It was a Highway Patrol vehicle camera that captured the incident.
CAUGHT ON TAPE
A Highway Patrol trooper enters the scene first, gun drawn, and kicks the driver’s window of Greene’s four-door sedan. After several moments, the trooper opens the door.
The trooper, his gun still raised, then gives Greene conflicting commands. He first tells him not to move, then tells him to come forward.
A second trooper quickly cuffs Greene’s wrist and pulls him from the car, which rolls forward until an officer stops it.
Greene flops to the ground, clearly dazed as five officers rush him. A sixth officer, with Henderson police, enters the frame late and delivers five well-placed kicks to Greene’s face.
“Stop resisting mother (expletive)!” one officer yells.
Greene doesn’t scream until a second Henderson officer knees him in the midsection — and then does it three more times. Greene was later treated for fractured ribs.
Police suspected Greene was intoxicated as he weaved among lanes about 4 a.m. on Oct. 29, 2010, and finally stopped his car near Lake Mead Parkway and Boulder Highway in Henderson.
But that wasn’t the case, which they soon discovered after they searched Greene.
“Call in medical,” one officer says in the video. “We found some insulin in his pocket. … He’s semiconscious.”
“Let’s get medical out here. He’s a diabetic, he’s probably in shock,” the officer later tells dispatch.
Greene’s lawsuit said officers then forced him to stand by a patrol car in handcuffs and blow into a Breathalyzer, despite being injured. Paramedics later arrived and treated him for low blood sugar.
Greene was released without a citation, and officers apologized to him for “beating him up,” the lawsuit said.
He immediately went to a hospital, where he was treated for the broken ribs and the bruises to his hands, neck, face and scalp, the lawsuit said.
One of the harsher moments in the video comes near the end of the clip, when one officer can be heard laughing loudly.
One officer notes that Greene “was not a small guy.” An officer laughs and says, “I couldn’t take him by myself.”
OFFICERS NOT IDENTIFIED
None of the officers was named in the lawsuit, and authorities have not released their names.
Henderson police said a sergeant involved was disciplined. The sergeant remains employed with the department.
Greene’s lawyers were planning to hold a news conference today about the incident.
Greene’s case, while shocking, is not unique.
Alan Yatvin, a legal advocate for the American Diabetes Association and a Philadelphia attorney, said police across the country frequently mistake low blood sugar — called hypoglycemia when blood sugar is exceptionally low — for intoxication in people with diabetes.
A Web search on the issue returns dozens of video clips and stories similar to Greene’s.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia include shakiness, dizziness, hunger, pale skin, moodiness, aggressive behavior, loss of consciousness and even seizures.
“You need police to be trained in what to look for,” Yatvin said. “The problem is, there’s no authority over all police departments. Every department has its own procedures, and states have different rules and training regimens.”
Henderson police said in a statement that the department’s use-of-force methods were modified after the Greene incident. The statement noted a 30 percent reduction in use-of-force incidents from 2010 to 2011. The specific policy changes were not detailed.
William Sousa, a criminal justice professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said training for crisis issues is not consistent through departments. Some departments train every officer, and some departments train just a few.
And it is unknown how effective crisis training is, Sousa said.
“Anecdotal evidence is that even officers trained for this will come upon situations they have to diagnose quickly, and act quickly, and those result in cases where you have something (like Greene’s case),” he said.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes wear a bracelet indicating their condition, but “police still have to look,” Yatvin said.
It is unknown whether Greene was wearing a medical bracelet, but it wasn’t mentioned in the lawsuit.
Yatvin, who specializes in police misconduct cases, added that it is “very troubling” for the average citizen to think police could arrest or assault them because of a medical condition.
“I have a hard time imagining a scenario where it’s necessary to kick an unarmed man and break his ribs,” he said.
The scenario likely would not have been seen at all had the Highway Patrol camera not been rolling.
At the time of the incident, Henderson police did not have dashboard cameras. Those were added to Henderson police vehicles in June, more than eight months after the incident with Greene.
Such an event would not have been captured on video in Las Vegas because the Metropolitan Police Department doesn’t have cameras in cars.
Sousa said the trend with agencies has been moving toward dashboard cameras.
“It works both ways,” he said. “There’s usually resistance from officers at first, but as years go by it may become no big deal, because you get an objective recording that often helps the officers.”
This wasn’t the first high-profile incident involving a medical episode in Clark County. In both cases, the Highway Patrol was involved.
Las Vegas doctor Ryan Rich, 33, died in January 2008 after trooper Loren Lazoff used a Taser on him five times.
Rich’s vehicle had crashed into two vehicles and then the center median on Interstate 15.
Lazoff said Rich appeared intoxicated, dazed and was combative, but an autopsy later revealed he only had seizure medication in his system. Rich had been diagnosed with the seizure disorder shortly before he died.
The Clark County Coroner’s inquest jury ruled the death excusable.
Rich’s family sued Taser International last year. The Highway Patrol was not named in the lawsuit.