An 80-year-old military vet and grandfather from Lone Jack, Missouri found himself getting maced and beaten on his own property by the local police for being on his tractor and not coming down when instructed to.
The police encounter followed a confrontation between the 80-year-old Bill Swan and a utility crew he saw working on his property. Swan approached them and told them to leave his property. Apparently, they had been through this before with this man, and so they called the police.
When the police showed up, they ordered Swan off his tractor. According to Swan’s grandson Tim, Bill told police that he didn’t have to get off his tractor.
Police claim that Bill tried to back into one of the police cars, and that he tried to run them over and flee the scene. This caused them to “fear for their lives,” and when one of the officers was able to get on the tractor and turn it off, they pulled Swan off, maced him, and beat him up.
The family of Bill Swan says his confrontation with police left the 80-year-old with bruises and broken ribs. Police say the senior citizen got feisty and threatened officers with his tractor.
“He’s 80, he’s a veteran, and he has had cancer,” said Libby Sawn, Bill’s wife, who says her husband was arrested by Lone Jack police after a showdown on his property Thursday morning.
“Police got there and told him to get off his tractor, he was on his own property, and said, ‘I don’t have to get off my tractor,’” said Bill’s grandson, Tim.
Police say crews were working in the area, and Swan was angry, believing they were on his property. Police say this wasn’t the crew’s first run-in with Swan, so when things escalated, they called police.
“They maced him, then drug him off the tractor,” Tim added.
“It’s obvious they used excessive force,” said Libby, “He had abrasions on his face that were bleeding, he complained of pain on his right side.”
Police tell a different story. They say Swan tried to leave on his tractor, even when they yelled and waved for him to stop. Police say Swan refused, and claim he tried to run over the officers.
“Obviously he’s not going to fight back, he’s not going to hurt anybody,” said Tim.
Tim says his grandpa’s almost deaf, and needs help getting up stairs, let alone assaulting a police officer. Police say Swan put up quite a fight, hitting the officers, and reaching for one of their guns. Then came the arrest.
“When I saw him, the police officer’s probably in their mid-30s, I would think, God, an 80-year-old man, I would not be proud of what I did today,” added Tim.
Swan’s family says he was in bad shape when they picked him up from the police station– with bruises and cuts all over, plus two broken ribs.
“It’s very frightening,” said Libby, “Very frightening.”
“It makes me worried, police officers are supposed to serve and protect, and instead they’re going after people that pay their taxes, that do the right things, and are law-abiding citizens, and they’re picking on the small guy,” Tim said.
Police arrested Swan for disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and assaulting a police officer. They’re turning the case over to the prosecutor.
This is one of those cases where it’s the officers’ word against the citizen’s. As far as I know, we don’t have video evidence. Just the police report and Swan’s testimony. The police have a vested interest in covering themselves and making it sound like everything they did was justified, because the older man threatened them.
I can’t say that the police are lying, because I don’t have evidence. But so many times in the past, police have said similar things about people “trying to reach for their gun,” “resisting arrest,” and other things that turn out to be completely false when video evidence surfaces. It’s entirely possible that this man reacted angrily and threatened them with his tractor.
But it’s also entirely possible that he’s hard of hearing, and that he never reached for anyone’s gun, assaulted any officer, or tried running anyone over. Was he being ornery and cantankerous? Sure, most men his age are, and police especially need to know how to deal with them. They need to be a lot more patient with them and not be so quick to resort to violence. They should treat them as they would their own grandpa.