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Bob Carroll
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Taser Mania Continues – Officer Prescribes Two Jolts For Hospital Patient

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You and I may not think of the Taser as a medical device or instrument, but an Orlando police officer apparently does. In fact, the has testified that he twice fired the taser at the patient who was strapped to a hospital gurney in order to save the patient’s life. The Orlando Sentinel reports on the trial of the officer for battery by taser.

Orlando cop on trial in Taser case

A jury is expected to begin deliberations today after hearing the officer’s story.

The Orlando police officer on trial for using his Taser on a man strapped to a hospital gurney did it because he was trying to save the man’s life, he told jurors Thursday.

Officer Peter Linnenkamp said he thought Antonio Wheeler, 19, had swallowed small bags of cocaine and that without proper medical treatment, the man might die.

Wheeler was in police custody that night, May 5, 2005. Another officer had taken him to Florida Hospital Orlando, then turned him over to Linnenkamp after a shift change.

Hospital personnel wanted a urine sample from Wheeler to determine whether he had used cocaine, according to several staff members who testified Thursday.

In the end, those tests were negative. But the medical staff didn’t know that at the time, so they insisted on a urine sample.

Wheeler, though, either could not or would not provide a sample, so the staff decided to take one using a catheter. That’s when Wheeler began to resist. He told jurors he got scared when he saw a medical technician with a 12-inch catheter tube.

Although Wheeler was already bound by leather straps and a set of handcuffs to the gurney, Linnenkamp twice used his Taser on the patient, witnesses said.

Linnenkamp is charged with battery, a misdemeanor.

Two months ago, an Orlando jury acquitted Linnenkamp of one count of battery for jumping on Wheeler’s chest that night while helping the medical staff strap him to the bed.

However, those jurors were unable to decide whether the Taser jolts constituted a crime.

That’s what this jury, sworn in Thursday, is being asked to decide.

Jurors are expected to begin deliberations this morning.