Last updated: about 1 year ago
Staff at the Maryhaven Center of Hope in Middle Island called police Wednesday night to report Dainell Simmons, a resident at the facility, had become violent and uncontrollable, officials said.
Police say he had been striking staff members and had been running around the facility, hurling himself at the walls, for nearly 45 minutes before police were called.
When officers arrived to take Simmons to the hospital, police say he lashed out at them and they used a stun gun and pepper spray to subdue him. During the struggle, Simmons become unresponsive and was taken to the hospital, where he died.
Dainell Simmons had lived in the group home in Suffolk County on Long Island since it opened six years earlier. Police reported that staff at the facility called 911 to request assistance transporting him to a psychiatric emergency room after he "created a disturbance" in the facility, running around and banging into the walls for about half an hour.
By the time police arrived, Dainell had calmed down and was sitting on a couch talking to staff. Police claim he assaulted them when they attempted to handcuff him for transport to the emergency room. A struggle ensued, and police used stun guns at least twice, as well as pepper spray. After being handcuffed, Simmons lost consciousness and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Police characterized him as "emotionally disturbed," a term that appeared in many of the news stories. Comments following one of the stories on the web included two former staffers who said they knew Simmons, and that he was diagnosed with autism. Both said that, handled competently by properly trained professionals, the situation could have been resolved without the use of weapons.
In response to Simmons' death, one parent of an adult group home resident began a petition to mandate training for first responders on interacting with people with disabilities.
June 2014 Lawsuit filed