Oklahoma police tase an 86-year-old bedridden grandmother

When Lonnie Tinsley's 86-year-old bedridden grandmother refused to take her medicine, he called emergency services in El Reno, Oklahoma and requested a medical technician. Instead, a dozen armed officers arrived at the scene.
 Newsok-Photos 1004533 Medium According to officer Duran’s official report, Mrs Vernon had taken an 'aggressive posture' in her hospital bed. In order to ensure 'officer safety', one of his men 'stepped on her oxygen hose until she began to suffer oxygen deprivation'.

Another of the officers then shot her with a taser, but the connection wasn’t solid. A second fired his taser, 'striking her to the left of the midline of her upper chest, and applied high voltage, causing burns to her chest, extreme pain', and unconsciousness. Lona was then handcuffed with sufficient ruthlessness to tear the soft flesh of her forearms, causing her to bleed. After her wounds were treated at a local hospital, Lona was confined for six days in the psychiatric ward at the insistence of the El Reno Police Department.

"Don't taze my granny!" (Photo source)


  1. Not to worry, it is heinous abuses of power like this for which paid leave(up to a week, if you really want to send a message) was invented.

    “New Professionalism”, aw yeah…

  2. “Taze her ’til her Depends catch on fire, Sergeant!”
    “OK, but keep stepping on that oxy, this mama looks mean.”

  3. I make no claim to know the facts of the case, but the police side of the story is that the grandmother was disoriented, armed with a knife, and actively threatening to kill herself.

    IF that is true, it would at least start to explain tasing her to get the knife away, and why she was then committed for psychiatric examination.

    As I said, I can’t say who’s telling the truth, but there are at least conceivable circumstances in which this is something other than absurdly egregious police rampaging dialed up to 11.

      1. I find it interesting that the police’s account, being so matter-of-fact, does not necessarily contadict Tinsley’s story. In both versions, the acts are the same (barring no mention of oxygen in the police account), it’s the manner and motivations that differ.

        I’m not saying I agree with either side — I don’t think any of us have enough evidence — but just because the tone of the police report is so cut-and-dry doesn’t mean the reality was as well. Could they have found another way to subdue the woman? Maybe, maybe not. But you certainly can’t tell either way from their report.

        1. You’re saying that 10 police offers might not be able to subdue an 86-year-old woman in a sick bed.

          1. Well, what if she was possessed, or had some sort of supernatural powers? I don’t think there’s enough evidence here to know for sure.

      2. Uh, sorry…she was 86 freakin’ years old!! These were trained, and one assumes, relatively physically fit police officers! How damned hard is it to overpower an 86 year old, bed-ridden woman with several officers on hand????? WITHOUT tazing her! WTF did cops do before tazers were invented? Cower in abject fear from knife-wielding, oxygen deprived grannies stuck in their own beds?

        1. “WTF did cops do before tazers were invented?”

          My guess is that more of them were stabbed. Also, more non-cops were probably shot.

          I don’t know what happened in the room and this was an old lady, so the chances are that they handled it wrong.

          But as a general rule, I can’t agree that cops should risk their own necks in order to not hurt someone who’s threatening them.

          1. Did you have a problem reading the words, 86 years old, bedridden? Causing her to nearly pass out from lack of O2 not enough?
            OK, one real question: exactly how was a 86 year old bedridden woman a threat?

          2. Ichabod, you don’t understand: the cops are always right. If it appears that the cops are wrong, that just means that we don’t have the full story. It doesn’t matter that medical personnel deal with freaked out and violent patients every day, without the use of weapons and with minimal harm to the patient.

            You see, cops are much more important than medical orderlies, so naturally they should take fewer risks. Also, cops are entitled to instant obedience at all times, so anyone who hesitates to obey a police officer’s order should expect to be tased. Being unable to understand English, or being in shock, or suffering from dementia, or being too injured to comply is not an excuse.

          3. Joe: Actually, around BoingBoing it’s just the opposite.

            If you even hint that maybe, possibly, at some point, the cops could have been right about something, then people jump to the kind of response we’ve seen here.

            In this case, I specifically said that the cops were probably wrong, but that’s not good enough. A person must either agree that all cops are villains all the time, or else admit to being a fascist nutcase.

          4. If you even hint that maybe, possibly, at some point, the cops could have been right about something, then people jump to the kind of response we’ve seen here.

            Fascinating. What does that have to do with a dozen jack-booted thugs asphyxiating and electrocuting a feeble, elderly woman in her bed?

          5. “Fascinating. What does that have to do with a dozen jack-booted thugs asphyxiating and electrocuting a feeble, elderly woman in her bed?”

            Nothing at all. Next question.

          6. Did you have a problem reading:

            “I don’t know what happened in the room and this was an old lady, so the chances are that they handled it wrong”?

            I was stating a general rule, and you were reading that no matter what I say to the contrary, I must be talking about this specific situation.

          7. “But as a general rule, I can’t agree that cops should risk their own necks in order to not hurt someone who’s threatening them.”

            But that’s their job, just like doctors risk their lives to care for people who could infect them, and firemen don’t do much *but* risk their necks.

            The idea that cops somehow have dangerous jobs is bullshit. Farmers have *much* more dangerous jobs. Even sanitation workers have more dangerous jobs.

            What makes cops so entitled and special? And no, it’s not a rhetorical question.

            What makes cops so entitled and special? If they can’t handle their job professionally they should quit. It’s not like they were forced into being cops.

          8. “But as a general rule, I can’t agree that cops should risk their own necks in order to not hurt someone who’s threatening them”

            I have a grandmother rather like this. She’s about 95. She got upset in the hospital recently and ripped her catheter and IV out while screaming bloody murder. She was psychotic, biting at nurses.

            They gave her a sedative.

            If hospital orderlies can manage a frail dying elderly woman in psychotic rage but cops can’t I have no sympathy for the cops. Cops that stupid aren’t protecting us from ANYONE.

    1. No, there are no “conceivable” circumstances. Nurses deal with disoriented patients threatening suicide and never have to taser them.

      Your knife story sounds about as bogus as most of the ones made up by those who continually apologize for the absurd behavior of a police force made up of undereducated and overly violent men and women who are not thoroughly vetted for psychological problems nor given even the most basic training in dealing with any situation without resorting to violence and bloodshed.

      Good God, an 85 year old woman is not an Islamic terrorist bent on destruction and it’s about time our police stopped acting like they were fighting in Kabul every time they leave their precinct house!

      1. “Your knife story sounds about as bogus…”

        There is a steak knife visible on the bedside table in the picture. Just sayin’.

  4. I can’t believe the polemics here; this wasn’t only excellent police work, it was government healthcare! Do you know how much they charge for electroshock therapy these days? You bleeding hearts should be thrilled!

    1. Quit tryin’ to tell us bleeding hearts what we think! We were the ones who took stands against the government in the first place.

    1. I have had lots of cops help me! Very often, they have given me directions. They also know all the best places to eat around town. One time, an officer even personally guided me to where I wanted to go!

      Oh wait… this was all when I lived in Japan.

  5. i look forward to read how all of the officers involved were fired, but something tells me i will be reading about how we “do not have all the facts to make a proper judgement”

  6. Even if that’s true, are you telling me 12 police officers can’t subdue a bedridden 86-year-old woman without suffocating her or potentially killing her with electricity? I don’t understand people. A cop’s job is supposed to be hard. Enabling them to abuse people in order to make their job easy defeats the purpose of a police force and laws.

  7. Screw firing them. Those cops deserve to be IN PRISON.

    Also, using a Tazer in an oxygen-rich environment is presumably a huge no-no.

  8. I wonder if there is a danger of explosion resulting from pure oxygen + taser. I know you don’t want an open flame anywhere near pure O2. Perhaps in that light there is some safety justification to stepping on the O2 tube before tazing. Even so, wouldn’t you just go turn the valve off?

  9. To be entirely fair to Lonnie Tinsdale and the cops, insane old people can get incredibly hard to handle. When dealing with my grandfather’s dementia, I remember being paralyzed with WTF when he would have fits of rage. Suddenly this sweet old person turns on you with all the malevolence of an H. R. Giger alien. It is dumbfounding. It takes somebody with training and experience to handle a situation like this.

    That said, the cop in charge of this operation should be fired, and kept from having another authority position forever. Indeed, I hope his name shortly ends up in this article, so that this is forever the first Google hit for the guy.

    It also sounds like the whole department needs some training and practice in non-violent ways to deal with difficult people. When all you have is a Taser, everything looks like it needs 50,000 volts to the chest.

  10. It’s a competition among police squads. The ultimate score is achieved by Tasering a newborn baby seconds after being delivered.

    1. Piker. Pre-natal tazing of a fetus right through a pregnant woman’s engorged abdomen unlocks the “one shot, two kills” achievement, and is worth way more bonus points. It’s worth even more points than shooting a kid’s beloved puppy dog in the back during a SWAT raid…

  11. It’s so hard for police to stand more than an arm’s length from a bedridden octogenerian? Maybe try to talk to her?

    I don’t understand the new police mantra: we will be cowardly rather than brave, dictate rather than serve, and punish rather than protect.

    The more potential for a real threat, the farther away they are, but harassing, beating and arresting everyone else is the rule.

  12. Regardless of the knife the cops say the old lady had, the Tazers were still unnecessary. A set of police-grade kevlar gloves or steel-mesh butcher’s gloves could have helped against the knife. Even an oven mitt can help against a slashing move.

    Barring that, a full-size towel, whipped with proper aim, could have knocked the knife from her 86 year old hand with minimal discomfort, or at least tangled the knife long enough for them to move in and take it from her.

    Barring even that, there is a chance they could have talked her into putting the knife down without any physical effort at all. After all, we do suppose ourselves to be living in civilized society.

  13. is there any reason they make tazers look so… badass, other than to sell them to people like this?

  14. They’ll justify and explain away everything, but there’s no way an 86 year old bedridden woman on oxygen needed any of that to be subdued. Even if she was absolutely wild on crack, Pinehead above gave several excellent and simple solutions that would have worked without endangering her life.

    And yeah, tazering someone on oxygen: how idiotic is that?

    I wonder if the real reason for her incarceration in the mental institution is to give her wounds time to heal?

  15. I guess showing “THe Exorcist” at the precinct movie night wasn’t such a good idea, after all.

  16. In fairness to the police, most police chose their career because from an early age they’ve masturbated to fantasies of killing and beating people, not because they were willing to take the slightest risk in order to “protect and serve.”

    Besides, well, that’s no ordinary granny. That’s the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered octogenarian you ever set eyes on. That granny’s got a vicious streak a mile wide, it’s a killer!

  17. “El Reno police last faced controversy over using a Taser in November 2008 when an uncooperative driver was shocked after a crash. The police chief said later officers had no way of knowing the driver was in diabetic shock. A video of the 2008 incident was widely circulated on the Internet.”


    My father was a cop. He tells me to never call the cops unless I absolutely have no other choice.

  18. Since she’s bedridden how the hell could she have threatened them with that knife? Stay out of her reach – it’s not like she can suddenly charge at them. All they had to do was be patient and she’d have probably tired out. There is no justification at all for any of the actions they committed including having a dozen armed cops at the premise.

  19. At some point soon cops need to be required to wear cameras at all times. Its amazing it hasn’t gotten to that point already isn’t it?

    It would be better for everyone if instead of he said/she said they could just hit play.

    1. HA Ha WarEagle. That’s funny.

      Not only will they not wear cameras, they are making/have made it illegal for us to photograph or videotape cops.

  20. Oklahoma!
    Where the cops are cowards and beat up on the crippled.
    Where civilization is a dream and ignorance is adored.

  21. I am sure her prior record of actually being a Mexican ‘illegal’ smuggler will shortly surface and the police actions will totally be justified.

    At least she didn’t get a head shot..

  22. I’ve worked geriatric psych on and off for ten years as a nurse. I have dealt with violent dementia, schizophrenia, organic brain issues, etc. I’ve had my ribs dislocated, even, by an 86lb old lady.

    That said, I just can’t wrap my mind around how the cops could justify tasering a bed ridden woman. Even if she had a knife.

    Oh wait. We did have a 110lb 76 year old geri-psych gal admitted without her meds to the last facility I worked. We called for an ambulance to take her over to the hospital to admit her to a more secure environment until we could get her meds shipped over.

    Instead they sent the cops. Some idiot cop decided that the 110lb 76 year old woman WITH A SHOE posed a threat, and tackled her to the pavement. He broke her arm in three places, and dislocated her hip. I had to keep the NACs off the cop because they were going to take him out for that.

    I don’t get how medical personnel can be trained to deal with violent, dangerous people, and do it in a way to avoid hurting the patient, and keep their dignity, but cops just hurt folks and say, “You don’t know what it’s like to deal with violent people”.

  23. People in delirium or “acute confusional state” as presumably this little old lady was suffering, are really hard to deal with – but the key is that they are terrified, confused, and often agitated. A calm voice, a non-threatening posture, a desire to help – it’s all you need. I attended an old fella who was trying to open the door of the 747 we were in – about 28,000 above the Indian Ocean. He just kept demanding to be “let off this bus”, and refused to acknowledge his wife was his wife.

  24. Taser + oxygen could = explosion and fiery death. That would have taught her to take her meds. Of course, it also would have obliterated the local police force.

  25. Doctors, farmers, and everyone else does what they can to reduce risks to their lives and limbs while still doing their jobs. If they don’t then I don’t know why they’re not.

    I figure that the job of police is to protect the people who aren’t committing crimes. Isn’t it?

    Again, I’m not talking about granny. I’m talking about as a general rule, what’s wrong with them using a taser to handle a threat, rather than being all “brave,” and going into hand-to-hand combat?

    1. “Doctors, farmers, and everyone else does what they can to reduce risks to their lives and limbs while still doing their jobs. If they don’t then I don’t know why they’re not.”

      But if they preemptively use deadly force on someone to reduce that risk, they usually go to jail.

      “Again, I’m not talking about granny. I’m talking about as a general rule, what’s wrong with them using a taser to handle a threat, rather than being all “brave,” and going into hand-to-hand combat?”

      They could just stand around and wait at a distance for the disturbed person to calm down.

      Say a disturbed person is in their apartment threatening a bunch of officers with a hammer, or a sword, or a chainsaw. Keep your distance and wait for them to fall asleep, how hard could it be? Only a mental defective would rush into the apartment with them just to subdue them , but we see it happen all the time.

      1. “They could just stand around and wait at a distance for the disturbed person to calm down.”

        Sounds good.

        As I said, I don’t see the point in being “brave” if they don’t have to be in order to do their job. If your method works, then I agree it’s better than tazing.

        But I don’t agree that risking a cop’s life or limb, if it comes to that, is better than tazing. Just to show that they’re not cowards or something.

        1. “But I don’t agree that risking a cop’s life or limb, if it comes to that, is better than tazing. Just to show that they’re not cowards or something.”

          Then cops no longer deserve to be highly paid (50K) with excellent retirement benefits. They were being well paid compared to other uneducated jobs because they took risks. If they can just stand back and Tase people now (and let the city pay the victim’s damages), then they no longer deserve that kind of dough.

          They may as well also stop training cops how to restrain people, since they aren’t bothering to use those skills anymore.

          1. “They were being well paid compared to other uneducated jobs because they took risks.”

            I guess I think that even cops with tasers take risks.

            When they use them too aggressively (like what probably happened with granny), then they should be punished. When they use them to avoid having to use a gun or get themselves seriously hurt, then I’m all for tasers.

    2. No their job is not to protect people. This is something they claim but it is not true. It is their job to find criminals and put them in jail. It is not possible for them physically protect anybody. They can only get to the scene of a crime after the fact. Their job is supposed to be dangerous and hard. The only way citizens can be protected from abuse by police officers if their job is dangerous and hard. The only reason people are continually abused by police officers is because lawmakers try to make a cops job easier. They make it okay to beat people, or kill them even they are innocent because “it’s hard to be a cop, they didn’t know how to deal with an 86-year-old woman so they tazered her, that’s what we have to put with so the cops can do their job”. That is bullshit, and until this thinking is stopped police abuse is only going to get worse.

  26. Given “every time you masturbate, God kills a kitten”, what does He do every time a cop tazes a bedridden woman on oxygen?

    Bad cop, no donut!

  27. silly boingers! always assuming that the man is getting you down. you forget how liberal oklahoma is. this was a case of compassionate care. the oldster had attempted suicide and the compassionate care cops were only trying to help her die with dignity.

  28. Killing a 14 year old boy “armed” with stones at the border
    Tazing an old lady and depriving her of oxygen
    Is anyone connecting any points yet…?

  29. I guess this is probably a moot point, but I hope when I am 86, If I want to refuse my medicine, no one will call the cops or anyone else to force me to.

    Again, maybe this lady was so crazy that she stopped being able to be responsible for her own choices. Just.. I wonder if she had a reason not to want to take them, if any alternatives were available, and if they were in her bast interest given her stage of life.

  30. All government eventually leads to tyranny.

    This senseless brutality is the inevitable result of government, which always seeks to aggrandize it’s own Powers until it stomps on the throat of those it feeds from. Its hubris to think America is somehow different or immune.

    Governments ultimately compel compliance through threats of pain, prison, or death. As they grow larger and more corrupt they loose their earlier semblances of civility about it, tazing grannies and such. Soon we’ll have “camps”.

  31. The article isn’t visible to me for some reason, but I’d like to know is why a bunch of police were sent instead of the requested medical assistance.

    I’m also a bit curious as to what constitutes an “aggressive posture”. Not just in this case, but in general. I really don’t want to risk being randomly tazered because I happen to be standing the wrong way when a cop walks by.

  32. Old people are just not that much of a risk to police. And tazing is obviously a huge potential risk to old people who might have heart issues. Hell, if police are this stupid and lazy, you might as well hire Jason Stackhouse.

    Makes me almost want to become a cop, just to keep the rest in reign…

  33. Just to clarify a fact that was misstated at the beginning: the woman had taken unknown meds after threatening to kill herself and her grandson called 911 (as most of us would).

    What the cops did was ludicrous.

  34. This country has become the DDR.

    For those who are too young, the DDR was East Germany.

  35. Oxygen + Taser?!?

    Talk about an extremely dangerous and flammable combination! Completely irresponsible police tactics as usual.

  36. What kind of pansy-ass police department do they have El Reno, OK that they need 12 officers to choke and disable an 86-year old bedridden woman? The story is literally, “My grandma can take on the El Reno Police Department, and she can’t out of bed!” Definitely not a proud moment for anyone.

  37. Why was a stun grenade not used initially followed by a stun bag from a shot gun? Insane morons…………… Police are there for the public benifit where I come from! Not hurting elderly pensioners. It does not take a rocket scientist to realise why I would never go back to the USA. Some of the replys to this page are from some of the most extreme looneys I have ever seen.

  38. Thank God I do not live in the US.
    If something like this would happen in my (or any other European) country those police officers would all be fired on the spot and they would be prosecuted for murder two and/or manslaughter one.

    1. Wow!

      I knew things were bad in Europe, but I had no idea they were prosecuting people for murder or manslaughter even when no one was killed.

      Run, man! Get out of there!

  39. I just want to restate my personal policy of never, ever visiting the USofA. Get out of there people, before it’s too late..

  40. Those guys (cops) call me all the time soliciting donations for those ‘who make the ultimate sacrifice’. Like they serve in Iraq or something. I tell them I’m an unemployed carpenter, then he wants a little less or wants to defer my donation for 30 days…..Once, he asked me what I would do if I had to call 911 and no one came. Believe the gall of that guy? I lost my polite, apologetic tone there. I said ‘I can take care of myself, I own a gun, you ain’t strongarming me for ‘protection’ money, you hood, and besides, I pay property taxes. Where do you think all those cushy benefits come from?

    That lady looked real dangerous. I’m surprised they didn’t shoot her. Assholes.

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