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Doug Burns, Maced?

A few months ago, I had a very nasty low blood sugar at the movie theater.  Robbed of my ability toScene Two. comprehend and stumbling like I was intoxicated, I wandered out to the snack counter and tried to purchase a juice from the concession counter.  The refused to serve me because they had "already closed down for the night."  An argument ensued and I ended up screaming at the manager until they provided me with juice - which of course I paid for. 

If I was a strong, athletic looking man with a deep voice and bulging biceps, instead of a young woman, barely 5'3" and speaking in a higher-pitched voice, would I have been arrested?  Would management have called the police on me instead of rolling their eyes at my protests and reluctantly providing me with juice? 

Ask Doug Burns.

He was wrestled and maced outside of a downtown movie theater in Redwood City after police thought he was intoxicated, watching him stumble to the snack counter to ask for juice to treat his reaction. 

According to an article by Michelle Durand of The Daily Journal, "The security guard told police that Burns was wobbly and unstable on his feet and wouldn't reply to his questions.  Thinking Burns was intoxicated, the guard walked him outside and told him to leave.  When Burns didn't, he called police to report his loitering." 

"I could understand if I was belligerent or had track marks but I was nicely dressed and I don't think I fit the profile or smelled like alcohol," said Burns, according to the article.

The Daily Journal went on to further state that "Burns believes the situation was based on complete ignorance of his condition and diabetes as a whole."

I've been asked by police officers if I am drunk, when in fact I was low.  I've experienced my own altercations at movie theaters and gyms and grocery stores.  I've fought off paramedics and spoken completely out of turn, due to a low blood sugar.  While I know I am responsible for maintaining my own condition and while I do my best to be prepared for any diabetes-related situation, things happen.  We are responsible for ourselves, but this is another example of how ignorance about diabetes can put lives in dangerous situations.  Sometimes we need the kindness and the help of strangers.

Not to be maced.

Read the full article here.  Contact Michelle Durand by clicking here.  Sometimes I can't believe the things I hear. 


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Your story from a few months ago and Doug's story are stories of pure ignorance. It hurts to know that with as 'popular' (for lack of a better word at the moment) as diabetes is, and is unfortunately becoming, it is ashame to know that people still don't know and understand. It is up to us to get this message accross. I know that if someone came to me when I worked at a theater with this situation I would take appropriate measures to fix the problem, however, bad things like this happen because people don't know. It is ashame and I hope it is a story no one else has to tell one day. Kerri, Doug, I know how this feels and it is unfair that ignorant people (by ignorant I mean diabetes ignorant, not uneducated as awhole) assume the worst-that we are intoxicated. Maybe that is a poor reflection on the world today, but I hope it is an image that more people will begin to recognize. We are simply nice people in need of help. We aren't drunk. Thank you for this post Kerri and sorry Doug. That really is shasty. I hope it wasn't the same theater.

How infuriating.

“The fact is Mr. Burns assaulted our officer,” Cessina said. “If he had just stood there and let us help him maybe they would have called the medics if he didn’t seem to fit the description of being under the influence. All that changes when the subject wants to attack an officer.”

Clearly, this dude has never seen someone have a severe insulin reaction before. If he had just stood there and let us help him - yeah, like that happens during your average horrible reaction...

Dear Lord, police need training something awful.

Truthfully, this tears me up as a parent of a child with diabetes...

Here's where my cynicism comes in....won't this be a terrific scenario for the sensor companies to use for a commercial for why we need their sensor - to avoid arrest at a theater!

While most people are nice enough when these things happen (and it helps when you don't smell like alcohol), my own experience has showed me that sometimes even EMTs don't even bother checking medicalert tags. It really makes you wonder.

This is just insane. The fact that they guy admitted to not much first aid training of officers makes me wonder how safe we really are in all situations. Since often police officers arrive at emergencies prior to EMTs. Makes me wonder why I bother wearing an ID bracelet.

I saw this, too, and all I could think was that if I was having a low sugar reaction and I was at a snack counter tryign to fix it and someone was trying to force me to leave so I could fall into a coma outside--I might punch them, too.

You know, I have a card in my wallet that reads, "I am not intoxicated, I have diabetes." But the thing is, when you're in the middle of a low, you don't think to yourself, "Perhaps I should bring my card with me so they know." Honest to Pete. The disease itself is bad enough, now we have to list arrest as a side effect! I'm so frustrated I could just spit.

I totally thought of you when i read that article kerri, because i remember when you wrote about your incident that time.

I have a felony for this. I attacked the sister of my girlfriend during an insulin reaction, first time using klonopin-I was not informed it masks most of the normal symptoms for insulin reactions. She ended up bruised, I ended up with a felony.

she was a CNA too-and already knew I had been violent in the past if attacked while in a reaction, which I had when my ultralente peaked in the late afternoon. She was trying to illegally take my gf's kids-something both the family and my gf tried to tell the police. Since I was denied having witnesses during trial, it ended up being my word against hers.

The ADA burns was a part of did not help until later, and only to suggest a lawyer. I was told what happened would normally be a misdemeanor, not a felony, and since I was not allowed to cross examine or have a Dr. testify. The women I attacked was later denied custody of her children in part due to the unprovoked attack and taking of the kids-so even the state admitted I was right, but I was the only one punished. In jail, I was denied regular insulin until my community health worker started filing an ADA complaint, in which case she was permanently barred from the jail and I was finally allowed to bring my BG below 400.

The state is shutting down the prison there in part for not taking care of inmates. I still have a felony, and even if I wasn't on SSDI, cannot work in my field of accounting ever because of it, either.

All because I sought treatment for bipolar disorder and was given the wrong medication, because I complied with therapy, and had a reaction I could not feel either. I was not sure what was happening. I was told by the cops to sign a confession or I would not get insulin either-and later when I requested the tape of the signing was denied it.

Do you think we will ever get people educated??? I wonder.... My best friend is in law enforcement and she is also an EMT. But I know, from personal experiences, that a basic first aid class talks about diabetes, symptoms, and treatments. You would think that someone in law enforcement would have a basic first aid class.
It's just frustrating to know that we can't always depend on other people to recognize our distress.

When Demarco was 4 and a half, we were at a shopping center we don't normally use, and the second I started to notice Demarco's feet shuffle, I looked down, and sure enough, he had "the zombie gaze." I put him in a trolley an opened a box of juice. He could not hold it.He could not sip though the straw. My mind was racing...where can I go to fix this?? I ran to the Parent's Room..."Out of Order, Plumbing Repairs." I was giving Demarco a glucose tube to suck whilst I found a place to amend what looked like a glucagon episode for sure. I ran into a Pharmacy, ( I got yelled at by the Clinique "Happy" fragrance tester lady for knocking her sign down..)..I approached the front counter and asked to speak with the Pharmacist. He trepidaciously approached me, as at this stage, Demarco was just not safe to be in a trolley, therefore I had a thrashing child broncho champ bucking on hy hip. I asked him if I could use his breastfeeding room to attend to my son's severe hypo. He stood, gazing at me with immense suspicion and just shook his head, side to side."Shoulda given him something else to eat before you headed out today lady.."
"Are you serious?"
"Yeah, I am.
"May I please use your room?"
"No, you can't."
"But there's no one in that room!"
"I just don't want to get involved with this OK?

At this point, I ditched my trolley and didn't care about the items I had bought. I took Demarco to an unoccupied bench and set up his tester...1.7mmol/L which is around 40. (Thanks for the conversion tips,Shannon!!)He was lying across the bench when two young girls asked me how long I would be as they were meeting their boyfriends there soon. I didn't answer them, as I was preparing glugagon, and Demarco was litle by little fading away into unconciousness...I asked on of the girls if she could ring 000 on my phone and put it on speaker, (our equiv of 911) and she threw it on my lap, huffed and walked off.

I was flicking the air bubbles out of the glucagon murkiness, and a security officer decided at that very moment that he was going to apprehend me. He called for all backup as there was "an incident" on the first floor. He demanded an explanation,which at this point, I begged very firmly for them to pleeeeeeease leave me be until I did what I had to do, and then I would explain. Whilst I was giving the glucagon,which followed by an agonising scream by Demarco, I could hear the security guard desribing "one caucasian female, long red hair, blue eyes, black shirt and blue jeans"...I had Demarco in my arms at this point, rocking him to and fro, talking him through what had happened and how soon he would feel fine and how he could have a fruit smoothie soon...
It was during this ramble to my son that I noticed four shiny black shoes standing in front of me. As I gazed up, I recognised the Queensland Police uniform and intimidating stance. I immediately felt safe, knowing that they would help me get these security guys off my case, but they weren't there to help me at all!! They wanted to know what I had just administered my child,they said that I seemed frantic and scattered myself and not in a "healthy state of mind." They even asked if I had had any alcohol or drugs that day!!!! After that comment I certainly wasn't in a healthy state od mind. I told them that Demarco had a life threatening emergency and I couldn't find anywhere to discreetly help him.

"Did it ever occur to you to go to the Parent's Room?" Ahhhhhhhhhhh....
At that point, one officer was demanding to see what I had injected Demarco,and I refused to hand over his medication. HIS MEDICATION!! I rang my wonderful GP and told him what happened whilst I had two cops and two security guards screaming at me,telling me to put the phone down, distressing Demarco all the more. The doctor asked me where I was exactly, and he was there in 7 minutes flat, which at this point, every shop owner had abandoned their store and was watching the vampire Mum who had "injected something into her son and taken blood from him too." My trusted GP and friend took these arrogant fiends over to the corner, whilst Demarco began to sip his juice and eat a granola bar. He was rubbing his leg, and begging to go home. The Police and the Security Guards walked away from me without even acknowledging the cruel accusations and added stress they had put me through. My doctor checked Demarco out, there and then on that bench. He smiled at me and said, "You did a good job, Kate..he is out of danger and everything is OK. I refused to give them your name. Come, I'll walk you to your car."

"But your patients? What about them?"

"Ahhh, it was lunch and my after lunch appointment was late."

Then I realised that I had left my trolley somewhere. (My GP is a very handsome, suave African from the Congo, and he walked in to the Pharmacy where the Clinique "Happy" woman flashed her plastic smile at him.)I felt comforted that I was in this man's company as she was visably uncomfortable as the doctor guided us out of the store.

"Kate, your belongings are at Lost Property,I will help you retrieve them and then I want you and Demarco to come and recover at the surgery."

At that point, I burst into tears and fell into his chest. I had never felt more degraded and cheap in all my life.

A month later, I wrote a letter to Central Management. They wrote back promptly, stating that I could have avoided a lot of "trouble" if I had cooperated with the security officers and the police. I showed my doctor, and he asked to have a copy of this document.

Two days later, I received a $100 gift voucher from the "Happy" Pharmacy. I did have to laugh though,as when I went in to purhase my GP a men's fragrance and a Transformers Bath Set for Demarco,the "Happy" Woman approached me from behind and asked if I needed some "SPECIAL HELP?" For some reason...she seemed dreadfully offended when I sweetly smiled and said "No thank you,now please f**k off and I'll be happy!"

The funniest part of this tale is that a few days later, Demarco was doing a puzzle, and he looked equally as puzzled as he said, "Mum, I had this dream last night, and there was you and me and some policemen and some pretend policemen, and our doctor!!" Thankfully these types of episodes are few and far between, and Demarco remembers little of them. However, I remember every microsecond.

I can understand people feeling threatened during the situation, especially by a big hulking dude like that, however ABSOLULTELY NOT AT ALL once it was realized what was really going on... and especially not after the fact! I detest those who cannot admit they were wrong. KateH, your story has me all wound up at work and I almost wish there was someone around I could tell off (for reasons unknown at this point!)

...but hopefully your doctor enjoyed the gift :P *wink wink nudge nudge*

KateH, I wish I lived in your area, I'd stage an "Inject-In" at that shop. As many PWDs and parents of kids with D as possible, hogging those benches, checking blood sugars and whipping out needles. I'm nauseous over your story!

Gosh Kate. I can't believe that they were so belligerent with you!! You are such a good, strong mom :)

While from a outside obsevance I can see how that situation got out of hand and that the cops reacted out of defense, I do believe that there should be a big push by the ADA, and JDRF to get law enforcement officials to start programs that teach officers about conditions that cause similar reactions to drunkeness.

Something's got to be done.

The second paragraph of my comment was NOT referring to Kate's situation!!....it was for the news story.

This story made me mad! Ok, Doug perhaps should have gone prepared - I know I always stuff on me in case of trouble. And yeh, he's responsible for his own actions regardless of the reason. But omg ... aren't we all caught short at some point? Couldn't someone have tried to figure out what was wrong rather than assuming he was drunk? Yeeouch!

Kate, I can't believe what happened to you. Sometimes, people don't seem to care except for when they are least needed!

Fortunately, I have always been treated with kindness and understanding when I have a hypo incident, but I tend to be around people with at least some medical training. And I get really weak and spaced out rather than aggressive when I am really low.

But these sorts of incidents get me worked up. Whatever the reason, if someone comes to you begging for food, do you deny them that?

I could write more but I'll just get more irritated. I can't believe the police are pressing charges. They themselves should be afraid of being sued. Unbelievable.

So when Lauren was really, really little we were in the mall one day when she had a really bad low. Okay, she'd only had diabetes for maybe less than a year, and I had forgotten to pack some carbs. I dragged her to the Cinnabon and said "Can I have a spoonful of frosting? I'll pay you for a large whatever these things are!" (IN panic.) Employee response: "We dont' sell frosting. We sell cinnabons." (Okay why am I not just buying a soda? I don't know. I was new to D and in a panic, "Please, just give me a spoonful I will pay you ten bucks." "No, maam. But I can sell you a cinabon." so I buy the stupid thing, scrape the frosting off with my finger and rub it into her mouth. IN the end, she was fine. I probably overreacted and could have been calmer. But still. A little empathy would be nice. So the next week I was telling my hairdresser (at same mall) the story. She took it upon hersef to tell every employee in the mall the story. About six months later, the Cinnabon went out of business. So there.

my late husband had a *hypo* in a major pharmaceutical shop ( Boots the chemist if you are English) he had to wait in a queue to pay for a bottle of glucose drink. He went out like a light and hit his head against the counter fracturing his skull. We found him later in hospital after having had to go to the police station to report him missing.

I think the problem wiht diabetes is that everyone thinks that they know something about it, and everyone things that an unconscious dibetic is that way because he needs insulin rather than glucagon

Oh my. This was 15 years ago, when my mother was in her late 60s. My mother was a little woman, under 5'3", and I am not a large woman but at that time I was very fit. Mom's diabetes was poorly controlled. We were in an airport preparing for a flight. I was a bit anxious and didn't notice Mom sliding into what we called then "the weird zone" until she was pretty unsteady on her feet. I said, "Mom, you need some sugar." Her response was to haul off and slug me right between the eyes. Immediately my nose streamed blood, so I put my right arm up by my nose as I grabbed her purse, squatted down and started pawing through her purse for the glucose whatevers she might have squirrelled in there. As I was doing so, Mom was helpfully punching the top of my head and yelling incoherently.

I sort of noticed the shiny boots that Kate noticed, but ignored them in favor of ripping open a packet of glucose, grabbing Mom's hands, and squirting it into her mouth.

Only then did I say, "My Mother is having a medical emergency. She is a diabetic and is having a low blood sugar episode. I have administered a sugar solution. She needs transport to an emergency room."

It took a fair amount of talking on my part (including displaying Mom's MedicAlert bracelet, the alert card from her wallet, my ID and hers -- good thing we have an unusual surname, and good thing I didn't change mine when I married) to get out of a sticky situation. The good news is that the security staff did radio immediately for EMS. The other good thing is that the EMS staff were amenable to transporting me and Mom in the same ambulance.

We did get transport to the local ER, but again it took presence of mind on my part to distract the staff from my ensanguined state to Mom, who by then was not so ill-appearing.

Hey everyone,

This is Doug Burns and I want to say thank you so very much!!

I had no idea that getting beaten and maced would bring so many people together :~) Kerri, Alex, Nicole, Scott, Cynical, Michelle, Andrea...all of you have made my Week!!.

I have refrained from reading any articles or watching any clips until all is done but I Have been reading emails and trying to respond with thanks.

Also looking to address this mistaken identity issue that we all face in some fashion...

Though the above posts seem dated perhaps you had read that I was arraigned this last wed?

Have pleaded n/guilty to all...and I'm sure the da will come to her senses and drop the charges.

The whole issue is rather bizarre isn't it?

Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you so very much for your support...



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