Sussex Police have been slammed by the family of a Taser-treated dementia patient

THE FAMILY of a one-legged 93-year-old with dementia who died after being tasered at his care home have blasted police.

Police were called to a nursing home in June after an elderly man reportedly threatened staff with a knife.

Two officers attended and found the one-legged Donald Burgess sitting in his wheelchair in his own room, knife in hand.

After a brief chat with him, one of the officers pepper sprayed the vulnerable pensioner and then hit him with a baton. When he did not drop the knife, a second officer verbally abused him.

After disarming Mr Burgess, who had advanced dementia, officers handcuffed him, arrested him and drove him to the police station.

However, on arrival his condition was assessed as serious and the 93-year-old was immediately taken to hospital where he died three weeks later on Wednesday 13 July.

Sussex Police have voluntarily referred themselves to the independent Bureau of Police Conduct, which has launched an inquiry into the incident that took place at the Park Beck care home in Upper Maze Hill, St Leonards.

Now Mr Burgess’ family have blasted Sussex Police for using a taser on a “defenseless, confused old man” who is confined to a wheelchair.

Shirley Fitch, his cousin, said: “We just can’t believe it. Why on earth would you taser someone with dementia who is in a wheelchair? He couldn’t have harmed anyone.

“He was just a slightly confused old man suffering from dementia. Why on earth would the police use a taser on him, let alone a baton and pepper spray?

“Apparently he was in his own room so he couldn’t have hurt anyone anyway and must have been very, very confused.”

Ms Fitch said: “We are just shocked and appalled by this. It’s just the scariest thing.”

Both officers were not suspended for their actions, although they have limited duties in non-public roles and their suspension status is being reviewed.”

David Fitch, Shirley’s husband, said: “I can’t believe they’re still on duty. That’s incredible. Why weren’t they suspended?”

Donald Burgess, 93, was verbally abused by police shortly before his death.street view

The couple revealed they found out through television.

Ms Fitch, 84, of St Leonards, said: “We only found out about this horrible, horrible thing from watching the news on TV.

“We sat and watched, thought how awful it was, and then heard his name. My husband turned to me and said, “Isn’t that your don?” I was just horrified and shocked.”

The two officers – both officers from Sussex Police – have been told they are being criminally investigated for manslaughter and have also been issued with reports of gross misconduct.

The IOPC said the first steps in the investigation include taking testimony and reviewing the officers’ body-worn video footage.

They also attended the post-mortem on Thursday 21 July and are awaiting the results of further cardiopathology tests as Mr Burgess’ cause of death is not yet known.

Neighbors at his former home in Battle are also “stunned and shocked” by his tragic death.

A neighbor, who asked not to be named, said: “Oh what a tragedy. He was an amiable, sociable man. He and his wife Ethel lived here for years and they were a lovely couple.

“Ethel got cancer and the last time she went to hospice I promised her I would take care of her don. This is so annoying. I can not believe it. How terrible.”

Donald Burgess, 93, was verbally abused by police shortly before his death.Donald Burgess

She said Mr Burgess, a retired carpenter, had had diabetes for some time and as a result had to have his leg amputated.

“After Ethel’s death, he had his own carers,” the neighbor added. “But after his leg was amputated, he only came back for one night before going to a nursing home.”

Another neighbor said: “He must have developed dementia after going to the care home because he was always fine when he was here. We liked him. He was a kind old man. I think his wife’s death hit him very hard.”

Another resident said the couple is childless and will depend on caregivers in their later years.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “This incident is subject to a full investigation and any further disclosure may jeopardize the IOPC investigation in both criminal and misconduct cases.” Sussex Police have been slammed by the family of a Taser-treated dementia patient

Fry Electronics Team

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