Dad charged in hospital dispute / Officer said he used Taser when man, holding his newborn daughter, refused to stop
Date: Tue 04/17/2007
By CYNTHIA LEONOR GARZA, KEVIN MORAN, MIKE GLENN
A Houston man has been charged with endangerment after an incident at The Woman's Hospital in which an off-duty Houston police officer used a Taser on the man as he tried to leave the hospital with his infant daughter.
William Lewis dropped to the hallway floor after being shocked in the incident early Thursday morning, and his 2-day-old daughter fell from his arms about 2 feet before landing on the floor, police said.
Lewis and his wife on Monday said the use of the Taser was inappropriate. The police department said it was necessary because they considered the baby to be in danger, and cited reports of previous threats made by the man.
"If the father had just complied with the rules, there would have been no Tasing," said Capt. Dwayne Ready, a Houston police spokesman.
`I thought she was dying'
Lewis, 30, said he and his wife were preparing to leave the hospital when staff told him he would not be able to leave with the baby. After a failed attempt to leave through the elevators with the baby, who wore an alert sensor that warns hospital officals about potential kidnappings, staff called security, Lewis said.
The man's wife, who did not want her name used, said she came out of her room into the hallway as police arrived and saw off-duty HPD Officer D.M. Boling shocking her husband. Boling was working security at the time.
"He was holding the baby when (the officer) Tasered him. My baby hit the concrete floor," said Lewis' wife. "When I went down to pick her up to take her to the neo unit, her scream was so loud and so bad I thought she was dying right there."
Ready said police received a report about 1:30 a.m. Thursday that someone was trying to leave with a baby without following the required procedures. "It was unclear to the officers if this person truly was the father," Ready said.
Ready said the officer used the Taser because Lewis, when confronted by the officers at the elevator, made "threatening remarks about this being a hostage situation if he were not allowed to leave."
He also said the child's mother called authorities on April 2 - a week before the infant's birth - to complain about Lewis. She "stated that her unborn child's father called her and made threats on her and the child's life," Ready said.
Police said the infant could have been injured if the officers had grappled with Lewis.
Boling joined the department in September 1984 and was working an off-duty security job at the hospital when the incident occurred. Records show that since HPD officers began carrying Tasers in December 2004, Boling has shocked at least two other people.
Free on bond
The mother said hospital pediatricians examined the baby and said she was fine, "but my baby - she had the shakes real bad. She's not as calm as she was before."
Lewis was first charged with kidnapping, although it was later changed to endangerment, police said. Lewis appeared in State District Judge Debbie Stricklin's court Monday. His arraignment was rescheduled for April 30 and Lewis is free on a $5,000 bond.
Date: Wed 04/18/2007
Mom says her baby isn't same after Taser incident
By MIKE GLENN
A woman whose husband was shocked by a Taser last week while holding the couple's newborn child is considering suing The Woman's Hospital of Texas and the Houston Police Department.
"The hospital was irresponsible (and) the officer was irresponsible," attorney Sadiyah Evangelista, who represents Jacqueline Gray, said Tuesday.
The couple's infant fell to the ground after Gray's husband, William Lewis, was hit with the Taser fired by D.M. Boling, an off-duty HPD officer working security at the hospital.
Lewis, 30, was later charged with child endangerment.
"I'm very upset and I'm distraught," Gray said at a news conference organized by the Millions More Movement Ministry of Justice.
Hospital personnel checked the baby out and determined she appeared unharmed. But Gray said her daughter, Carla, hasn't been the same.
Houston police said officers confronted Lewis at an elevator when he tried to leave with Carla about 1:30 a.m. without following discharge procedures.
Lewis became "belligerent" when hospital personnel told him he shouldn't be leaving with the baby. Police reported he said there would be a "hostage situation" if they tried to stop him.
In a statement, hospital officials said neither parent made a request to be discharged before Lewis attempted to leave with the baby.
Police said Boling and a second off-duty HPD officer feared Lewis was trying to kidnap Carla and that his aggression posed a risk to the child's safety.
"One officer deployed his Taser on Lewis as the other attempted to take the baby," HPD officials said in a statement.
Police said Boling fired the Taser opposite from where Lewis was carrying the baby.
"The voltage is not transferred from one person to another. Therefore, the child would not have been affected by the device," police said.
Woman's Hospital officials said security measures are meant to protect patients.
Hospital security guard uses stun gun on father holding newborn
Father holding newborn shocked by Taser
(8/14/07 - HOUSTON) - In a confrontation captured on videotape, a hospital security guard fired a stun gun to stop a defiant father from taking home his newborn baby, sending both man and child crashing to the floor.
Now the man says the baby girl suffers from head trauma because she was dropped.
"I've got to wonder what kind of moron would Tase an adult holding a baby," said George Kirkham, a former police officer and criminologist at the University of California-Berkeley. "It doesn't take rocket science to realize the baby is going to fall."
The trouble began in April when Williams Lewis, 30, said he and his wife felt mistreated by staff at the Woman's Hospital of Texas so they decided to leave. Hospital employees told him doctors would not allow it, but Lewis picked up the baby and strode to a bank of elevators.
The elevators would not move because wristband sensors on each baby shut off the elevators if anyone takes an infant without permission.
Lewis, who gave the video to The Associated Press, said his daughter landed on her head, but it cannot be seen on the video. He said the baby seems injured since the episode.
"She shakes a lot and cries a lot," Lewis said, noting doctors have performed several MRIs on the child, Karla. "She's not real responsive. Something is definitely wrong with my daughter."
It was not clear whether the baby received any electrical jolt.
Child Protective Services has custody of the baby because of a history of domestic violence between Lewis and his wife, Jacqueline Gray. Agency spokeswoman Estella Olguin said the infant seems in good health.
The hospital and the Houston Police Department did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.
David Boling, an off-duty Houston police officer working security at the hospital, and another security guard can be seen on the surveillance video arriving at the elevators and trying to talk with Lewis. Lewis appears agitated as he walks around the elevators holding his daughter in his right arm.
Within 40 seconds of arriving, Boling is holding the Taser. He walks around Lewis and whispers to the other guard, who moves to Lewis's right side.
About a minute later, Boling can be seen casually standing near Lewis, not looking in his direction, when he suddenly raises the Taser and fires it at Lewis, who was still holding his daughter.
Lewis drops to the floor. The other guard, who has not been identified, scoops up the baby and gives her to the child's mother, who was standing nearby in a hospital gown.
The guard then pulls Lewis to his feet with his arms locked behind him. Lewis's T-shirt has two holes under the left side of his chest where the Taser prongs hit him.
Lewis said he did not see the stun gun.
"My wife said we want to leave and then he just Tasered me," Lewis said. "He caused me to drop the child."
Lewis was arrested and charged with endangering a child. A grand jury in May declined to indict him on that charge, but charged him with retaliation, accusing him of making threats against Boling.
Lewis also has been charged with a second count of retaliation alleging he made a threatening call to Boling at his home.
Lewis denies both charges. He said he is considering suing the hospital but has not filed any legal papers.
Some 11,000 U.S. law enforcement agencies use Tasers, which have been officially listed as a contributing factor in about 12 deaths nationwide, according to Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Taser International Inc., which makes the weapon. Some experts contend the weapon can be deadly, particularly when used on suspects who use drugs or suffer from heart problems.
"The Taser itself is a legitimate law-enforcement tool," Kirkham said. "The problem is the abusive use of them. They're supposed to be only used to protect yourself or another person from imminent aggression and physical harm. They're overused now."
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)