Hamilton police use taser, charge employee after seizure at Canadian Tire

A 27-year-old employee of a Canadian Tire store in Hamilton is facing three assault charges and is recovering from injuries after police intervened when he was experiencing an epileptic seizure at the store Sunday.

Marcus Charles, who has worked at the retail outlet for about a year, has a seizure disorder well known to his manager and fellow employees.

On Sunday, a staff member called Hamilton paramedics when Charles was in the midst of a brain seizure. At the time he was walking around the store and eventually went outside where paramedics and later police attempted to subdue him.

After police were called, officers used a taser to restrain Charles. A fellow employee recorded the incident on this cell phone camera.

“I was screaming for my life, I was terrified,” Charles told Global News in an interview outside his home.

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Read more: Hamilton police defend actions during encounter with man suffering epileptic seizure in city centre

“I (had been) walking away in my own zone, doing my own thing,” said Charles, describing what it feels like when experiencing the effects of a seizure.

Charles sustained visible injuries to his wrists, forearm, and face as a result of the contact with police. He said his neck is sore and he is unable to sleep at night since the incident.

“I feel they weren’t trained. (Police) shouldn’t be called to a medical situation, they don’t handle it properly,” said Chantelle Chevrier, Charles’s partner.

Chevrier said she showed up at the Canadian Tire store as the incident was ending and was horrified to see what happened to Charles.

He was later taken to hospital and released. However, police have charged Charles with two counts of assault against an officer, and one count of assault against a paramedic.

Hamilton police are defending their use of force.

Read more: Two Edmonton police officers charged with assault after Tasering man

“Hamilton Police have obtained video that shows the entire incident and the officers’ actions were appropriate to the situation they faced,” said Jackie Penman, a corporate communications spokesperson for the department.

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“We appreciate that the individual’s medical condition may have affected the events as they folded,” Penman added in a written statement.

Police, paramedics, and store staff were all aware Charles had a seizure disorder at the time officers were deployed to the store.

“My heart goes out to Marcus, this was not his fault,” said Cynthia Milburn, CEO of Epilepsy South-Central Ontario, an organization that advocates for those with seizure disorders.

“This is very disturbing. They were told it was a seizure. The person is not violent,” Milburn said in an interview.

She said in a case like this, the seizure should be allowed to run its course. Paramedics do not need to be called unless a seizure lasts several minutes, Milburn said.

Charles said he’s speaking up about what happened to draw attention to the way responders handle cases like his.

“I don’t want this to happen again. Everyone should know this,” Charles said.

“I was restrained, all because I had a seizure.”

On social media, customers of the store who’d previously interacted with Charles described him as a caring employee. The owner of the Canadian Tire store location told Global News Charles was well-liked, not violent, and welcome to return to work when he was well enough.

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