Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Man's pump needle torn out in scuffle with police

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The police came knocking at the home of Parlier, California, resident Terry Hillblom (59) in April 2006. They were there to deal with a dispute between Hollblom's daughter and her son, but Hillblom got involved and ended up scuffling with a sheriff's deputy, and getting arrested. Hillblom, who has diabetes and wears an insulin pump, says his pump's needle was torn out during the incident. Worse still, he claims the deputy involved would not let him reinsert it before taking him into custody. He says when he told the deputy he needed to fix the pump, the officer said "I don't care." Hillblom was later allowed to reattach the pump but says by then his blood sugar was more than twice its normal level.

Hillblom's not taking this lying down though - last week he filed a lawsuit over the incident. The deputy, Hillblom says, not only damaged his pump connection, but also entered the home without permission or a warrant, and Hillblom wants damages. The Fresno Bee reports that Hillblom is a prominent local resident, former attorney, and vice president of a medical-related non-profit.

As for the deputy involved, he maintains Hillblom caused his own injuries by resisting arrest. Says Hillblom's lawyer, however, "What I know from prior cases is that officers sometimes lose their temper and feel civilians fail the attitude test and they sometimes misuse their power."

What is most disturbing about this case? It's not the fact that the needle was torn out, but the fact that Hillblom was not allowed to fix it immediately. Like the incident involving Doug "Mr. Universe" Burns, this seems like yet another example of police ignorance causing harm to diabetics. Police must be better informed about diabetes, particularly the seriousness of disconnecting person from pump!

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