COVENTRY TWP.: A Coventry Township man says sheriff’s deputies mistook his epileptic seizure for an attack when they used a stun gun on him four times during his arrest.
Casey Stack, 38, was arrested Friday and spent the weekend in the Summit County Jail, where he said he suffered more seizures that were ignored by deputies. Stack wants the misdemeanor assault charge against him dropped and deputies to undergo training to better detect the medical affliction he has had since childhood.
“They should have been able to right off the bat recognize I was having a seizure,” Stack said Tuesday.
Sheriff’s officials contend they were unaware that Stack was suffering any medical trauma and deputies had to act quickly to defend themselves and restrain Stack.
As a matter of policy, the deputies’ use of the Taser and their actions in arresting Stack are being reviewed internally. Bill Holland, a sheriff’s spokesman, said the deputies believed Stack was attacking them after he was cited in a traffic accident.
“Here’s the problem,” he said. “Law-enforcement officers are faced with split-second decisions all the time and we don’t have the luxury of hindsight when we make these decisions.
“When he grabbed and shook the deputy, there’s a small amount of time to determine whether it’s an attack or he was having medical issues.”
On Friday afternoon, Stack was involved in a crash at Earth ’n Wood, an Arlington Road landscaping business, while he was backing in a trailer carrying yard waste. A dispute with another motorist led to the crash and witnesses contend Stack intentionally struck a man’s vehicle.
Deputy Lynn Urycki was called to the scene about 3:30 p.m. and wound up citing Stack for reckless operation, assault and having a fictitious license plate on his truck. Stack said that while talking to the deputy, he began suffering an epileptic seizure in the business’s parking lot.
Deputies say he grabbed Urycki’s arm, began shaking it and refused to stop.
“The next thing I know, I’m walking around in circles trying to figure out where I’m at,” Stack said.
He said he recalls hearing yelling and people coming at him. At some point, the 6-foot, 269-pound Stack refused repeated orders to stop and that is when the deputy fired her Taser, striking Stack’s chest with the probes, deputies said. Urycki activated the electrical shock a single time.
“I didn’t feel it or anything,” Stack said. “But I’m on the ground. I’m laying there, they’re yelling at me and I’m trying to tell them I’m having a seizure. That didn’t matter.”
Stack said he recalls pulling out the Taser probes and putting them in his pocket. Deputies say he tossed them to the ground.
During the confrontation, Urycki radioed for backup and Deputy Ryan Knight arrived.
Urycki’s report states: “Mr. Stack did not follow any commands and just stared at both deputies.”
Knight eventually fired his Taser and activated it three times to restrain and handcuff Stack, who was then on his back.
“I was just so wore out, with my last breath, I couldn’t breathe from the electric,” Stack said. “I told them ‘I’m having a seizure’ and finally they just came over and took their foot and rolled me over.”
Coventry EMS workers treated Stack at the scene before he was taken to jail on charges that now included assault against Urycki.
At the jail, Stack said he was denied his medication for more than a day and suffered two more seizures.
He also said he was unable to call his family until Monday. He appeared in Barberton Municipal Court on Monday and was released on a $3,000 bond.
The deputies’ report does not mention Stack’s contention that he was having seizures. His driver’s license, which he said he gave to the deputies before his arrest, notes a medical condition on the back.
Stack said he was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 4 or 5 and takes two medications to ward off seizures, which still occur at various times. He said the deputies should have recognized his condition or seen the notation on his license.
“They seen my driver’s license. They had to know,” he said. “They’re trying to claim I faked [the seizure]. There’s was no fake. As close as we was, she should have been able to see my eyes were dilated.”
Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or firstname.lastname@example.org.