Diabetic Mr. Universe Brings Abusive Police Officers to Trial

UPDATE: MR. UNIVERSE WON!!   See, Haddad & Sherwin Results: “$218,000 Jury Verdict for Diabetic Mr. Universe.”

Previous:  The civil rights case for Doug Burns, “Mr. Universe” 2006, goes to trial on May 31, 2011, in federal court in San Francisco.  Doug Burns is one of the 26 million Americans who has diabetes, and any diabetic can suffer from hypoglycemia, or dangerously low blood sugar.  1.9 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed last year alone.  Police officers are trained to recognize the signs of hypoglycemia and to give the victim of hypoglycemia oral glucose.

Doug Burns, the winner of the natural “Mr. Universe” contest in 2006, and a Type 1 Diabetic, was severely beaten by Redwood City police officers when he suffered from life-threatening hypoglycemia at a movie theater in 2007.  Officers violated their training and assumed that Mr. Burns — a clean cut, well-dressed man, wearing a Medic Alert bracelet, and with no alcohol on his breath — was drunk.  Mr. Burns needed immediate sugar to survive.  Instead, when he stumbled and bumped into one of the officers, they pepper sprayed him, tackled him to the cement, and beat him with a club and a pair of nunchucks, causing severe, career-ending physical injuries and permanent nerve damage.

The District Attorney recognized that Doug Burns was no criminal and dropped all charges against him.  Now the officers will have to answer in court for their use of excessive force and violation of their own training that instructed them how to recognize this obvious diabetic emergency.  Officers are trained to “never assume” that a person having known indicators of a diabetic emergency is intoxicated.




  • Diabetic Bodybuilder’s Suit Against Redwood City Cops for Using Excessive Force Heads to Court San Jose Mercury News, May 4, 2011 (SAN FRANCISCO). The civil rights lawsuit for Doug Burns, “Mr. Universe,” is headed to trial. The suit contends that Redwood City police officers mishandled an obvious diabetic emergency, resorting to excessive force and causing Burns’ severe injuries. “The officers failed to follow their training,” one of his attorneys, Michael Haddad said. “They should never assume that someone who seems intoxicated, is. They could be having a diabetic emergency.”
  • Mr. Universe Sues Redwood City After Arrest During Insulin Shock San Francisco Chronicle, June 20, 2008 (SAN FRANCISCO). A diabetic body builder who scuffled with police outside a Redwood City movie theater while slipping into insulin shock has sued the city, the Police Department and individual officers in federal court, saying police used excessive force in violation of his constitutional rights. Doug Burns, 44, a Mr. Universe contest winner, contends officers pepper sprayed him, forced his forehead into the concrete, beat him in the rib cage with a baton and continued to strike him as he lay on the ground, edging dangerously close to a diabetic coma, according to a lawsuit he filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland.