Man hospitalized after police allegedly beat him while he is having a seizure

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An El Paso man tells KFOX14 Investigates he was beaten so violently he was in the hospital for days. Police said he was resisting arrest.

Medical records show he had a seizure.
In a fight to clear his name, he asks KFOX14 to Investigate.

Javier Ortega, Jr., doesn't remember much about the night he crashed into a rock wall on McCombs Street and Stan Musial Ct. in Northeast El Paso.

It was late and he said he was tired.

He had fallen asleep at his children's mother's home after taking them to a Christmas parade.

Ortega said he got in the car to drive the 12 miles home. He stopped to get gas.

“I stopped at the Circle K just up the street. I don't remember what I put. To this day, I don't remember what I put. I had to check my bank account,” said Ortega.

It’s his last memory of that night.

He woke up at University Medical Center, covered in bruises.

“I had some bruises on my face and I could feel it when making face gestures,” said Ortega.

“His complete body was bruised. His arms, his legs, his feet, his back. And he had the two Taser shots on his stomach, his head, his broken fingers,” said his mom, Olaya Calanche.

Ortega suffers from gran mal seizures.

He takes medication which normally helps keep them at bay. But without warning, a seizure can suddenly strike.

Calanche said her son's life isn't normal.

“When he comes out of it, that's when he's like walking around like in a state of confusion. I've talked to him and I'll be like ‘Junior, Junior, it's Mom.’ He’ll look at me but like he looks past me."

It's an illness she cannot protect him from.

“I feel helpless,” said Calanche.

Medical records show Ortega had a seizure behind the wheel that night.
From his hospital bed the next day, Ortega soon realized this wasn't an average seizure.

“Typically after a seizure, I’m always sore and hurting so I just felt my body hurt. Like my whole body from head to toe was just hurting,” said Ortega.

Photos taken after the crash show his arms and legs are purple and bruised.
He had burns from a Taser.

Two fingers and a bone in his hand were broken.

“When I saw the car, I knew that none of those injuries, the injuries didn't come from the car accident,” said Ortega.

Calanche said a nurse filled her in on what happened.

“She told me that the police officer that rode in the ambulance with him, the paramedics had told her that my son had become very combative and he had become so strong like the Incredible Hulk that they had to tase him twice and used a baton and some of the bruises were because of the baton,” said Calanche.

Police will not release the dash cam video from the officer's squad car to us citing the ongoing investigation.

But here's what the records show:
The first police unit responded at 12:45 am.
The accident report shows Ortega’s car had driven in "donuts" on McCombs Street before crashing into a rock wall.

Ortega’s mother thinks he had a seizure and turned the wheel in one direction.

That made the car circle around and around.

The responding officer thought Ortega was drunk and resisting arrest.
The officer said Ortega was ‘looking around aimlessly and appeared disoriented.’

Ortega reportedly began saying he needed to leave.
As Ortega tried to walk away, the officer said that he told Ortega he couldn’t leave and tried to arrest him.

The affidavit shows the officer grabbed Ortega by "his arms and forced him to the ground."

But Ortega allegedly overpowered him.

The officer said he pressed Ortega against the rock wall while trying to cuff him.

That’s when he radioed for back up.

The officer claimed Ortega continued to resist, so he Tasered him three times.

When the Taser wires became tangled, the officer says he hit the defendant with his baton until two other officers arrived.

The responding officers filed three arrest affidavits, two of which said it took two more officers to bring Ortega under control. The third report claimed it took six.
Ortega allegedly continued to resist arrest by ‘tensing his arms, thrashing his legs and twisting his body’.

“People around me typically know, he just had a seizure, he just had a seizure. So the cops didn't know and in turn, I got beat up. I got beat up pretty bad,” said Ortega

That behavior isn’t resisting arrest, said Ortega’s doctor.
Those are symptoms of a seizure and post-seizure behavior.

“If a person does not know what a seizure is, they will not know this is a seizure,” said Dr. Darine Kassar, a neurologist at Texas Tech University Health Science Center.

Kassar explained after a seizure patients enter the “postictal phase”.

Patients are often disoriented and can react violently.

“They will not know what happened, they will be confused, they will be disoriented. What happened they can be combative they can be not following commands because they are confused, they are not back to their normal baseline,” said Kassar.

The phase can last for several minutes or several hours.
In fact, trying to restrain a person is the worst thing.

“Don't try to restrain them or be aggressive with them because they are still not back to their normal selves,” said Kassar.

Documents show El Paso firefighters identified Ortega’s seizures that night.

The ambulance arrived at 1 a.m.
Notes from paramedics show Taser marks on Ortega’s body.

El Paso firefighters say they found Ortega face down and handcuffed.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, “placing someone who is having or who just had a seizure face down can obstruct breathing and cause death.”

Paramedics said Ortega was extremely combative while being placed on the stretcher.

The paramedics said Ortega was able to "voice his seizure history but remained confused, alert to name only."

Paramedics took Ortega as a level one trauma, the most severe.

On the way to the hospital paramedics said Ortega had seizure-like activity lasting one minute.

They said he remained in the postictal like state.

“I know I didn't do anything wrong, you know. I'm not that type of person. I'll get pulled over and talk very courteously to any cop. I have cop friends,” said Ortega.

Despite the medical records, Ortega was charged with a DWI.

He was also charged with resisting arrest, evading arrest and interfering with public duties.

Four days after the accident the responding officer filed the paperwork to have Ortega arrested.

“That really upset me because how, why do I have a felony citation and two misdemeanor citations and then I find out they're trying to give me a DWI,” said Ortega .

After leaving the hospital, he was booked into jail.

A toxicology report from UMC shows Ortega did not have drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the crash.

“I feel sorry for him. He shouldn't be going through that. It wasn’t his fault. It was his disease which was flaring up at the moment and he got arrested for something he has no control over,” said Kassar.

Kassar said Ortega was cleared to drive because he was seizure free for six months and took his medication.

The district attorney’s office told KFOX14 Investigates the DWI has since been dismissed

But Ortega is still facing the other three charges.
He has spent time and money and is trying to find a lawyer.

His injuries also caused him to miss a month of work.

“What I am worried about is it might not work. I might still get this, I might not have enough evidence and the judge will return it and say, ‘Hey, you're going to have this on your record’. That's what worries me,” said Ortega

Ortega and his mother said they want the police to be aware and maybe receive better training on how to recognize symptoms.

“I hope that they know that this stuff happens to people. It's not, not everybody's bad. Not everybody's out there trying to get drunk and partying, acting like a fool. Some people are actually sick,” said Ortega.

Ortega filed an internal affairs report with police.

“I want him, the ones responsible for the beating that they did to my son, I want them to know that what they did was not necessary. And it was overreacting. I don't believe my son had a chance. My son could have been in a coma. My son could have died,” said Calanche.

The El Paso Police Department denied a request to view the internal affairs report. It was sent to the attorney general.

A police spokesperson tells KFOX14 Investigates the incident is still under investigation by internal affairs.

EPPD said officers receive training on how to recognize and deal with medical emergencies such as seizures while recruits in the academy.

Walking back to the scene of the crash, Calanche knows she's lucky her son survived.

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