Derek Graham admits he didn't answer questions from City of Miami Police officers September 14, 2014. But that's because he says he couldn't. He was having a seizure.
According to a lawsuit filed August 30 in Miami-Dade County Court, Graham says he was walking from his South Miami-Dade home to the Douglas Road Metrorail station on South Dixie Highway when he collapsed on the concrete at a nearby intersection. Graham lives with epilepsy.
Then two City of Miami officers approached. The lawsuit claims the pair began asking Graham questions while he writhed on the ground. Obviously, he couldn't answer. Eventually, he became conscious enough to try to walk home and take care of himself. But, he says, the MPD officers wouldn't let him.
Instead, "a scuffle ensued," the suit states. It ended when the cops threw Graham to the ground and used their Tasers to shock him. Then the cops handcuffed him. Graham says he was still floating in and out of consciousness as all of this happened.
Graham's lawyers call the cops' alleged actions "outrageous" and add that the officers "had a duty to recognize that Derek was experiencing recurring seizures and not committing a criminal act." (MPD does not comment on active lawsuits.)
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After the officers cuffed Graham, an MPD sergeant arrived and noted Graham was still incoherent and unable to answer questions. The suit doesn't explain how the next bit happened, but somehow, Graham's sister and brother-in-law drove by the scene and noticed he was handcuffed on the ground and still having a seizure.
Graham's sister, Alena Hodge, is a registered nurse. She approached the cops, but they wouldn't let her so much as speak to her brother. She identified herself as a medical professional and stated Graham needed medication, but the officers refused to budge. Someone also called Graham's father, Harold, who hurried over and tried to tell the senior officer, Sgt. Nathania Lai, that Derek took prescription Depakote for his epilepsy. But Lai allegedly (and incorrectly) replied that Depakote "was not an anti-seizure medication." The suit says the officers ultimately did not let Derek Graham leave and instead waited for "higher-ups" to arrive.
The officers took Graham to a holding cell at an MPD station on West Flagler Street. Police refused to let family members administer his epilepsy medication, they say. At this point, Graham had been waiting four hours for his seizure treatment. He remained behind bars for three days. Though Graham was charged with felony counts of battery on a law enforcement officer and
Graham and his family are now suing the city and multiple cops for battery, false arrest, malicious prosecution, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.