Taser Used On Dad Leaving Houston Hospital With Baby

Posted Apr 16, 2007 by Carolyn E. Price

A Houston man was charged with endangerment after an off-duty Houston police officer used a Taser on him as he tried to leave The Women's Hospital with his infant daughter.
William Lewis fell to the hallway floor after he was shocked in the incident early on Thursday morning. He was holding his 2-day-old daughter at the time and police say she fell from his arms about 2 feet before landing on the floor..
Lewis and his wife say that the officer's use of the Taser was inappropriate. The Police Department said it was necessary because the police thought that the baby was in danger. They 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.
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 officials about potential kidnappings, staff called security, Lewis said.
The baby's mother said as she came out of her room, she saw off-duty HPD Officer D.M Boling, who was working security at the time, shock her husband with the Taser.
"He was holding the baby when [the officer] tasered him. My baby hit the concrete floor," said Lewis' wife, who was still in the hospital at the time recovering from a C-section. "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."
Capt. Ready said the officer used the Taser because when Lewis was confronted by the officers at the elevator, he made "threatening remarks about this being a hostage situation if he were not allowed to leave". They say that if the officers had tried to fight with Lewis for the baby, she could have been injured.
"The Taser instantly immobilizes the suspect and does not allow that person to cause any other danger or harm," Ready said. "If the officers had to engage the suspect in a physical altercation, neither could have kept an eye on the baby."
The mother says that the hospital pediatricians say that the baby was fine after the incident "but my baby -- she had the shakes real bad. She's not as calm as she was before".
Capt. Ready says that the woman had called Houston police a week before the baby was born and "stated that her unborn child's father called her and made threats on her and the child's life".
Originally police charged Lewis with kidnapping but the charge was later changed to endangerment. Lewis appeared in court and his arraignment was scheduled for April 30 and he was set free on a $5,000 bond.
Boling used his Taser on Lewis after Boling repeatedly told Lewis he could not leave the hospital, Houston police spokesman Officer Gabe Ortiz said today.
Ready said the officers responded to the scene after receiving a report 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."
Boling joined the department in September 1984 and was working an off-duty security job at the hospital when the incident occurred.
Since Houston officers began carrying Tasers in December 2004, Officer Boling has shocked at least two other people.
Hospital officials did not address whether they believe the father should have been leaving with the baby in a statement released after the incident. "Our nurses educate the mothers and their family members upon admission regarding the safety procedures throughout our hospital," hospital officials said.
"My deal is that I broke no laws and maybe I broke some hospital policies, but I broke no laws," Lewis said. He and his wife said they were preparing to leave because they felt they were ready to leave, but "it was like you can't leave -- no explanation, no reason," Lewis said.
Lewis' wife said "the only thing that endangered my child was that police officer who tased my child when Will was holding the baby ... I don't know how it went from us leaving to this."