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Police taser 93-year-old disabled man at care home

Donald Burgess
Donald Burgess Image credit:

An elderly disabled man has died after being Tasered by two Sussex police officers at a care home in St Leonards-on-Sea.

The officers were called to the home on June 21 after being told a male resident was threatening staff with a knife.

Upon arrival they found the only person carrying the potential weapon was Donald Burgess, a 91-year-old amputee with one leg.

Burgess, who was diagnosed with dementia, was in a separate room from other residents and staff when police eventually arrived.

Despite being isolated one of the officers brutally used PAVA pepper spray before beating him with a baton trying to restrain the frail man.

When the officer failed to disarm the resident the second officer used their Taser on him giving off a painful electric current until the knife fell to the floor.

The man, who also had diabetes, was taken to hospital but passed away on July 13, it is not yet known if the incident was connected to his death.

Burgess, from Battle, moved to the care home four years ago after having one of his legs amputated. 

His wife, Ethel, passed away in 2015 from cancer. After her death Mr Burgess' health started to deteriorate.

On hearing about his death Burgess’ friends said they were “stunned and shocked”.

One neighbour said: “Ethel got cancer and the last time she went into a hospice I promised her I’d look after her Don. This is so upsetting. I can’t believe it. How terrible.”

They added:“After Ethel died he had his own carers. But after he had his leg amputated he only came back for one night before he had to go into a care home.”

A second neighbour said: “How dreadful. I knew him quite well to pass the time of day with. He was a lovely old man.”

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has opened an investigation which could see the two officers charged with manslaughter.

Graham Beesley, IOPC Regional Director, said “I want to express my sympathies to the man’s relatives and those who knew him. We have advised his next of kin of our independent investigation and explained the steps we will be taking.

“This will include investigating whether the force used by the two officers against this male, was reasonable, necessary and proportionate in the circumstances and in line with local and national policies, procedures and guidance.”

Donald Burgess was a retired carpenter.