BURLINGTON, WI — Police were asked to retrieve a bottle of pills that hat been incorrectly issued to an elderly patient. When the 83-year-old man asked that police “sign for” the pills before leaving his home, the officer became violent and threw him to the ground and arrested him on felony charges of drug possession and theft. His 76-year-old-wife also received a knee to the back as she was arrested and charged with obstructing.
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The ordeal happened on January 8th, 2013, when Robert Cirpinski, 83, sent his wife Beverly to pick up a prescription for medication used to treat a chronic stomach ailment.
Mr. Cirpinski was under a doctor’s care and had been previously prescribed different pharmaceutical drugs to relieve his symptoms, including hydrocodone for pain. However, although Cirpinski’s doctor had issued the hydrocodone prescription, he had called the pharmacy to request that it not be filled at that time, while other treatments were being explored. However, a miscommunication occurred and the pharmacy technicians did not honor the hold on the medication.
When Beverly Cirpinski, 76, was sent to the pharmacy to fill her husband’s prescriptions, she was unaware of the extra bottle that the pharmacists had waiting to be picked up. The Journal Times detailed what happened next:
“The pain clinic called me and said there’s a prescription over there to be picked up in an hour or so,” he said. “I wasn’t feeling so good so I sent my wife over. I said I only had one prescription. The clerk behind the counter said (to his wife) ‘no, you have two.’ ”
The pharmacy clerk told Beverly Cirpinski the new, non-narcotic cost $6 and the other — for hydrocodone — was $45, he said. But that posed a problem.
The pharmacist “said she’d call the company to see if they could reduce (the hydrocodone’s cost) because my wife only had $30. They reduced it to $23,” Robert Cirpinski explained.
And when his wife came home from the Burlington pharmacy with both prescriptions, “I said ‘that’s not right.’ ” But he staunchly maintains he never opened the hydrocodone bottle.
Beverly says that in order to reduce the price of the bottle, the pharmacist removed 6 pills. This point would only add to the confusion once the government was involved, aggressively trying to sort it out.
Served and Protected
When the pharmacy supervisors realized that the Do-Not-Fill request was ignored by pharmacy staff, they knew they had a problem on their hands. The government is rabidly against citizens receiving pain treatment without permission. The clinic immediately phoned the Cirpinskis as well as the police.
Multiple Burlington Police officers were dispatched to the Cirpinski home to retrieve the mistakenly issued bottle. They demanded the elderly couple relinquish the bottle. Mr. Cirpinski felt uncomfortable handing off the bottle without documentation, so he requested that the officer sign a statement that she had received the drugs.
“I said ‘you can have it if you sign for it,'” Mr. Cirpinski recalled, according to the Times. “Not that you’re not trustworthy, but it’s a drug. He (the police sergeant) said, ‘I don’t sign for anything.'”
Mr. Cirpinski stated that the officer then tried to grab him, but he pulled back. The officer then “grabbed me and threw me to the floor, put my arms behind my back.”
Mr. Cirpinski said after he was handcuffed, officers “begin to handle” his wife. She was allegedly thrown down, received a knee to the back, and handcuffed.
Police charged Mr. Cirpinski with felony narcotics possession, theft (of the “missing” pills), and resisting arrest. Beverly was charged with obstructing police.
Mr. and Mrs. Cirpinski, on top of their health problems, both faced months of legal struggles, and the real potential for going to jail. Robert’s felony charge could easily send him to prison. Despite the ridiculousness of the situation, the charges remained in place.
The pharmacy, which seemingly caused this screw-up, refused to comment when requested repeatedly by the Journal Times.
Finally, after about 5 months of stress and legal expense, police finally dropped the charge against Beverly. However, Robert was not pardoned so easily.
Facing the prospect of enduring a trial and potential imprisonment — which would be physically difficult for him given his medical conditions — he accepted a deal. He pleaded ‘no contest’ to 2 misdemeanors, so that the felony charge against him would be dropped. Now the 83-year-old man has a criminal record of theft and resisting police. A judge ordered him to be placed on legal probation until 2015.
“They dropped the felony charge of the prescription (medication). I’m not supposed to harass the police people,” Cirpinski told The Journal Times. “I guess I can’t do anything for a year.”
Although he avoided jail, the situation still angers Mr. Cirpinski a year later.
“I don’t like that people tell lies about me. It really burns me,” he said.
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While it is disturbing that police followed through with the arrests, and prosecutors lacked the integrity to immediately drop all charges against Mr. and Mrs. Cirpinski, the root cause of the problem runs deeper than that.
The injustice stems back to the government’s violent aversion to freedom of choice in medicine. The fact that the government dispatches armed officers against people suspected of medicating themselves without government permission is an injustice in and of itself. This common prohibitionist policy presents countless opportunities for government violence against Americans and must be ceased.