Thirty-nine year old Melissa Dent is still recovering from an incident with three Montgomery County Police officers last October. They were called to her home by a friend who thought she was suicidal. “I said I didn’t want to go to the hospital,” She says, “and the next thing I know the police showed up.”
Dent says three officers pulled her off the couch, kicked her in the face, and tasered her more than a dozen times. She was eventually taken to Shady Grove Hospital by ambulance after complaining of chest pains. She showed the AP News graphic photos taken a day after the incident. Her eye was black and nearly swollen shut. There are at least 13 raw wounds on her back. Dent says it’s from the taser which gives off about 50,000 volts of electricity.
A year later, she’s left with emotional and physical scars. “I’ve lost my whole life. I will never be the same,” Dent says. She worked for the Department of Energy for nearly 20 years and has had to take at least 10 weeks off over the last year for medical care. Most recently she had to get emergency epidural treatments for back pain. She also has nightmares and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Dent filed a complaint against Montgomery County Police Officers Adam Siegelbaum, Kimberly Wilson, and John Mullaney for using excessive force. AP News has received a copy of the letter from police Internal Affairs clearing the officers of any wrongdoing because Dent was violent and belligerent. Dent says she cried when she heard the ruling and says she’s now hoping for justice through a federal lawsuit. Rockville Attorney Dennis Ettlin is representing Dent. “Tasers are being used too frequently when there are many more ways to subdue someone safely,” he says. “We’re preparing a federal lawsuit against the officers for violating Ms. Dent’s constitutional rights and for negligence on the part of the officers and Montgomery County,” Ettlin says. They will likely seek a million dollars in compensatory and punitive damages. Dent’s two daughters, ages 13 and 17, are hoping their mom will one day rest one without nightmares. “It’s not just me who’s suffered. We all have,” Dent added.
More than likely, Dent will soon count her losses.