SKOWHEGAN — The father of a Skowhegan man arrested June 12 on a charge of assaulting a police officer has filed a complaint against the officer for not recognizing that his son was having an epileptic seizure at the time.

Paul Goodridge, 43, said he wants more training for police to recognize medical conditions such as his son’s.

He filed the complaint against Skowhegan police Officer Ryan Blakeney, saying the officer mistakenly thought his son, Noah Goodridge, 20, was high on drugs. The incident occurred outside the NAPA auto parts store in downtown Skowhegan where Noah Goodridge had gone to fill out an employment application, Goodridge said.

“They should have sent the ambulance not the cops in the first place,” Paul Goodridge writes in the complaint. “Officer Blakeney evidently thought my son was on narcotics and arrested him and brought him to the hospital.”

Goodridge said his son has a documented history of epileptic seizures, with dozens of hospital visits on his medical record.

He said the police officer “had plenty of time to realize that he made a mistake” but brought Noah to jail, where Goodridge said jail officials “refused to give my son his meds in the morning and at night.”

James Ross, chief deputy at the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, confirmed that Noah Goodridge was arrested and processed at the county jail, but said national standards prevented intake officers from providing medications.

“Noah Goodridge was incarcerated overnight at the Somerset County Jail,” Ross said in an email to the Morning Sentinel. Ross said that because of the American Correctional Association, which sets standards nationally for correctional facilities and jails, and state Department of Corrections standards, all jails are required to verify medications and prescriptions before administering them.

“This is handled by the medical provider here at the jail,” he said. “The medical provider was unable to verify the prescription and dosages. Mr. Goodridge bailed out prior to verification happening. Due to Noah Goodridge’s violent, assaultive behavior towards staff, for his safety and the safety of staff, he was placed in appropriate restraints during this incident.”

Skowhegan police Chief David Bucknam said Noah Goodridge was cleared for release to police custody by the medical staff at Redington-Fairview General Hospital. He said Blakeney is a drug recognition expert, certified through the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and the National Department of Highway Safety and “recognized signs associated with individuals under the influence of drugs.”

“I respect the father’s interest in protecting his son,” Bucknam said. “As a father, I would as well, but not before knowing the facts and circumstances of the situation.”

Bucknam added that police officers are first responders, not emergency medical technicians, and that the symptoms displayed by Noah Goodridge “were not conducive to what an average person would consider seizure.”

Paul Goodridge said that is the problem, that police officers are not trained to recognize epileptic seizures. He said he wants additional training for law enforcement officers and wants Blakeney “to be reprimanded and be held accountable for his actions in the wrongful arrest of my son, Noah.”

For his part, Noah Goodridge said he doesn’t remember anything until he woke up in handcuffs and “my face was all busted up.”

In his affidavit in support of probable cause for Noah Goodridge’s arrest, Blakeney wrote that he responded to a report of a medical emergency at the NAPA store at 4:19 p.m. June 12 and found Goodridge standing against a truck in the parking lot. He said the young man did not acknowledge his questions appropriately and “appeared to be under the influence of something.”

Blakeney said that when Goodridge attempted to walk past him, he positioned himself in front of him, so he was unable to walk past.

The officer wrote that Goodridge “reached out and grabbed me on top of my shoulders.” Blakeney said he pushed Goodridge’s hands away and told him not to touch him again.

Blakeney wrote that Goodridge grabbed him again by the shoulders, whereupon he used a police academy “arm bar” technique to bring him to the ground, where he was handcuffed.

Goodridge was placed into the police cruiser and taken to the hospital, where he ultimately was cleared to be taken to jail and charged with assault.

“I want things to change a little bit,” Paul Goodridge said in an interview. “They’re not training officers to know the difference between a seizure — I know we have an epidemic of people on drugs — but you can’t just instantly be going around assuming that somebody’s on drugs.

“I understand he made a mistake. People make mistakes. He wrongfully arrested and insulted my son.”

Noah Goodridge is due in court to face the assault charge on Aug. 15 in Skowhegan.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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