Deputy cleared in struggle with Alzheimer's sufferer

Justo Santander

July 14, 2010 8:56:33 AM PDT
A Durham County deputy who was the focus of an internal review after a struggle with an elderly Alzheimer's patient has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

The deputy's name was not released.

The family of 79-year-old Justo Santander claimed in June that he was beaten up by the deputy after he was rushed to the emergency room with a black eye, bloody cut, and concussion.

The 79-year-old had gone missing from his home earlier in the week and ended up 12 miles away in Bahama. He was knocking on the door of a complete stranger's house when the deputy was sent to the home.

Sheriff's investigators say Santander wouldn't respond to the deputy's questions and he didn't know he was dealing with an Alzheimer's patient who didn't speak English. Plus, they say, Santander was holding something the deputy couldn't identify in one of his hands.

The deputy said it was not an assault. He said in an attempt to control Santander, both men fell to the ground.

After a review, sheriff's office investigators backed up the deputy.

“According to policy, anytime force is used we have to do an interview review through the chain of command,” said Capt. Ladd with DCSO. “Through that chain of command it was determined that the deputy acted in accordance with our Use of Force Policy.”

Santander's family says it still intends to take legal action.

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