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A 21-Year-Old With Mental Health Issues is Tased, Twice, and Jailed Rather than Baker-Acted

| September 4, 2012

Cameron Anderson. (FCSO)

Cameron Anderson. (FCSO)

Last Updated: 2:45 p.m.

It wouldn’t be the first time that a police agency uses its police report to convey only its side of the story, and a very lopsided version of events, nor is it the last: police reports can be as much about documenting incidents as covering cops’s rears in court, where issues often come down to an officer’s word against a suspect’s, with little doubt as to whose word carries the day when “documentation” accompanies the officer’s version.

This particular case involves the Flagler County Sheriff’s response to an incident at 3 Pier Lane in Palm Coast Sunday evening. The first version of the story, posted here this morning, conveyed the way the incident unfolded as it was narrated in a police report. According to the family of the suspect involved, the police report got several crucial details wrong, and failed to mention crucial other details. And yet that wasn’t the worst of it, according to the family. In the end, a 21-year-old man was jailed instead of being Baker Acted (removed to a mental health facility at Halifax hospital in Daytona Beach), after being brutalized by cops.

Cameron Anderson is a 21-year-old Palm Coast resident at the Pier Lane home. Without excusing his rash behavior, his girlfriend said he’s had mental health issues, and had recently broken a bone in his foot, was prescribed pain medication, but had been drinking, badly mixing the two. He got in an argument with her and acted out, but “he never physically touched anybody,” she said. He should have been Baker-Acted, she said, not jailed. There is little question that Cameron had been threatening–mostly to himself.

According to the police report, Anderson’s father and mother, David and Michelle Anderson, were asleep after 10 p.m. in the 1,800-square-foot house when they awoke to the sound of their son arguing with his girlfriend Sarah Gfroehrer in the living room. When Cameron’s father went to the living room, he heard his son cussing and threatening: “I’m going to kill you,” Cameron said, according to the report. When his father told him he’d call the cops, Anderson said: “The cops will have to kill me to take me.”

Michelle Anderson, citing the words her husband wrote in a statement to cops, said her son never threatened his father–only himself. Gfroehrer says likewise: she says she was arguing with her boyfriend, but he’d never threatened her or his father, nor swing at his father, as the police report says he did, in the following words: “David went on to say that Cameron took a swing at him, however missed and he then tried to hold Cameron in an attempt to subdue him.”

The report states that Michelle Anderson told cops that she awoke to the sound of her son telling his girlfriend to get out. The commotion was such that she felt compelled to get him out of the house to give his girlfriend time to grab her cat and collect some belongings before leaving the house. According to the report, Cameron kicked the front door of the house and continued to yell at his girlfriend to “get out.” When she did, Cameron followed her. Gfroehrer left just as police arrived. She says the Andersons never called the cops, and she doesn’t know who did. Michelle Anderson said she didn’t call, and wasn’t certain that her husband hadn’t, but doubted that he had: the incident had unfolded very quickly, as did what she described as the brutalizing of her son outside the house by several cops.

According to the police report, when Cameron saw the cops arriving, he ran back in the house, grabbed something from a drawer–according to his mother, as she related it to a deputy later–and went back outside to confront the cops. He ran toward a deputy yelling, “I’m going to fucking kill you,” and “kill me,” according to the report. Michelle and Gfroehrer do not dispute that Cameron was threatening himself, or that he wanted the cops to shoot him. “When he went outside to the police, he wanted them to shoot him,” Michelle said in an interview this afternoon. But, she said, “he never said he was going to kill anybody. He never touched us, either.”

Most devastating to Michelle was the treatment her son received after he was first Tased. The report mentions only the first instance of a Taser shot–to Cameron’s chest, which caused Cameron to crumple almost as soon as he was on the sidewalk, his mother said: “As soon as he hit the sidewalk out front, he was down,” she said.

There is seldom any dispute that when an individual threatens to harm a cop, or to harm himself, Tasers may be used to subdue him. Nor is there any dispute that Cameron was threatening to harm himself, though there’s obvious disagreement over whether he threatened cops. But after he was Tased, and after he was down, Michelle said, five cops sat on him, and he was Tased again.

The report described the situation this way: “While attempting to place handcuffs on Cameron, he resisted by kicking at the deputies trying to take him into custody. The Taser probes were removed from Cameron’s upper body and he was placed inside my vehicle.”

Michelle said the Taser probes were not “removed” from his chest, but “ripped out of him.”

Anderson was taken to Florida Hospital Flagler, where he was medically cleared–without incident–then taken to the Flagler County jail. He was booked on three charges: assault-domestic violence, asssault on a law enforcement officer, and resisting arrest with violence. Those charges don’t make sense to his family, either, as there had not been a case of domestic battery, nor had–according to Michelle–he been in a position to assault officers who were subduing him.

“This is so upsetting, because it’s not true,” his mother said.

Gfroehrer posted $1,750 bond and Cameron was released.

Anderson, a graduate of Matanzas High School, was booked once before in February 2011, on a minor marijuana possession charge, to which he pleaded no contest. Two years earlier he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of presenting a false ID to a law enforcement officer.

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16 Responses for “A 21-Year-Old With Mental Health Issues is Tased, Twice, and Jailed Rather than Baker-Acted”

  1. Geezer says:

    This young man has issues and needs to be compelled to receive psychiatric treatment before he is shot by the police.


    Another “tough guy” meets the Taser !!!!

  3. blondee says:

    He’s damn lucky they only tasered him!

  4. The Geode says:

    Usually, I am skeptical of the cops, but had this been Orlando or Jacksonville, this guy would have been gunned down. Police jobs are hard enough without some guy running out of the house with something in his hand threatening them. The parents should seek treatment and stop blaming others for the antics of their son before he encounters someone who has a deadly weapon with less patience and less restraint shown by the deputies (this time). while they’re at it – get some help for the girlfriend too….

    • Ben Dover says:

      I read the story, what did the girlfriend do? why does she need help?, and for someone who is usually skeptical of cops , you seem to feel they had the right to shoot the kid, you sound more like a cop and a bad one at that , if the kid was suicidal and looking for suicide by cop , he definately should have been baker acted.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Deputies have job to do, that why they are where they should be. They wont stop you if they don’t have to. Respect the rules & you’ll be OK. If you don’t that where you will be looking for trouble.

  6. Outsider says:

    Now it’s police brutality; the story has changed quite a bit since this morning. It will be easy enough to determine who called the cops. It sounds like the people were fearful of their son, and called the police. Now they decide they were a little too rough on their boy and want to cry police brutality in yet another denial of their son’s bad behavior. He could easily have been shot, but he’s safely back at home because of the police response. Next time, deal with him yourself if he’s such an angel.

  7. Ray Thorne says:

    Nice slant on this story. Evidently someone is lying as someone had to have called the police. Isn’t there a way to get the dispatch log?

  8. Anon1 says:

    There’s a reason why the suicide rate per capita is highest in volusia/flagler area than anywhere else in Florida. White males, 20’s to 50’s.

  9. Honest Abe says:

    “He ran back inside the house and grabbed something from a drawer and went back outside to confront the cops” What was the object he retrieved if you know and if there was an object…maybe you should reconsider this news story be titled “Cops show great restraint and save a young man’s life”

  10. Reality Check says:

    Mental health issues are real, the problem is people do not see them as such; Police have to arm themselves and be ready for the worst. When you have a situation in which a suspect is threatening his own life you never put them in a cell, you take him to a psychiatric facility for evaluation. The evaluation covers the officer and County from a wrongful death or harm lawsuit if the person does one of the two in his or her cell. Adrenaline is a hard thing to control when you are in a situation, police go through training, but you cannot believe every officer is fit for duty (some have a control / power complex) you hope they have the mindset to handle the problem. Now if they had gunned down the man that would have been a tragedy, the taser worked fine, they did their jobs all though not all correctly, no one was badly injured but the man still needs mental health counseling. If the police would have Baker acted him he would have been forced to be evaluated; now it is up to him and if he does not this situation can happen all over again.

  11. Tired says:

    Although I’m compassionate to the family for having a son with mental health issues it is not the responsibility of the police to stop and decifer his every move. They took precautionary measures to insure imminent safety. He was removed from the home. Regardless of whether he was arrested or baker acted, he was safe. Move forward from there. Shame on the family for placing the blame on law enforcement.

  12. glide10 says:

    This is not surprising that people turn on those they call for help! “if that is the case” it’s just might or could be unfortunate to see what level they may try to take it? I wonder what they would be saying if thier son hurt a deputy “maybe seriously”? But I’m sure it’s safe to say, if and when it happens again, the police will respond in the same manner and handle the situation as necessary, “making sure they aren’t hurt and go home at the end of their shift”! I say, job well done Deputies!!

  13. Nancy N. says:

    A large portion of the inmates locked up in our state’s jails and prisons have mental health issues. This isn’t exactly shocking or new to hear a story like this.

    The question is…are we going to keep paying to lock up a huge part of our population instead of treating them?

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