A physically and mentally disabled couple said Delaware State Police officers violently beat the husband during an early morning raid at a relative’s home.
The Rehoboth Beach couple – the wife, a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, the husband, a disabled veteran who takes medication for schizophrenia – allege in a federal lawsuit that commanders failed to train officers in the “constitutional bounds and limits concerning the use of force,” particularly in interactions with disabled people.
Ruther Hayes, was giving his wife, Lisa Hayes, a sponge bath when multiple officers forced their way into the bedroom. According the the report, Ruther attempted to cover his exposed wife, but was beaten and tasered twice by officers. Even after being told Lisa could not use her legs, officers proceeded to point their assault rifles at the disabled woman and “shouted at her to do that which she could not: stand up,” the lawsuit says.
Ruther Hayes was initially charged with resisting arrest, though those charges were later dropped. In an interview, Lisa said the raid made her afraid of returning to her mother’s home, where the incident took place.
“I feel not only degraded, humiliated; I feel like they didn’t treat me as a human being,” she said. “I relive that day when they came in on me and them yelling at me to get up when they knew that I couldn’t get up.”
The heavily militarized raid on the mother’s home resulted in a sole charge for possession of drug paraphernalia. The suit asks a federal judge to award damages to the couple for suffering the effects of excessive force, battery, emotional distress, false arrest, negligence and other alleged counts. The suit also asks state police to change its policies and training on excessive force and dealing with disabled people.