A Yankton Sioux Tribal elder was hospitalized after being tased and beaten by police outside a Wagner nursing home.
Ray Cournoyer Sr., 64, was followed by the officers early Sunday morning as he rushed to the nursing home to say goodbye to his dying mother.
The tribe’s statement says Eli Kuhlman, a recently hired and uncertified officer with the Wagner Police Department, forced the U.S. Army veteran to the ground after he had told them he needed to see his mother, who died that morning, reported Argus Leader.
The photos from his daughter’s Facebook post “show the physical aftermath of Officer Kuhlman’s use of force upon Mr. Cournoyer.”
“While there are still many unknowns, the pictures speak for themselves. It is unacceptable for anyone, much less an elder, to be deprived of their rights at the hand of law enforcement, and be treated with such force that they are bloodied, bruised and injured,” said Yankton Sioux Tribal Chairman Robert Flying Hawk.
The highway patrol released the following statement:
“The South Dakota Highway Patrol has reviewed the actions of our trooper during this incident and the troopers actions were professional and within SDHP policy. The SDHP did not request the DCI investigation, but we have and will continue to fully cooperate with it.”
If treating someone like that is within policy, then they need a new policy book.
DCI spokeswoman Sara Rabern confirmed that the agency was investigating.
Cournoyer had spent most of the day with his 87 year old mother and consulted with a Hospice nurse. He said she had been doing well and that he left at about 7 p.m. Saturday evening to return home to his family.
But then his sister called, telling him that he had better hurry to Wagner to say his goodbyes.
“He said ‘mom’s going on to the spirit world, so I figured I had to get in there as fast as I could,” he said Tuesday.
The highway patrol officer who’d attempted to pull him over on Highway 46/50 called for backup, and the Wagner officer was on scene when Cournoyer got out of the vehicle.
“I hollered, ‘I’m going to see my mother, she’s dying,’ then ‘boom,’ all of the sudden they hit me,” Cournoyer said.
Cournoyer was taken to a hospital after the police beat him and did not get to say goodbye to his dying mother.
Chairman Flying Hawk’s statement contains a request for community mediation following the incident:
“We do not know if there is room to have a respectful discussion about the incident but we must try. Therefore, we have invited the City of Wagner’s Mayor, City Council, and Chief of Police to meet so that we can exchange information, opinions and ideas on ways our communities can address this incident and move forward,” he said. “We hope they take us up on the offer.”
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)