In separate incidents about a week apart, two men have died after they were tased by local law enforcement. The public and media were notified about the death of Tymel Bowman, who was tased by police officers in January. But news of Sean Winslow, who was tased by a deputy with Greene County Sheriff’s Office and died a few days later, has not been made public until now. Winslow’s family spoke with the Daily Citizen about their frustrations and concerns.
In the late evening of Jan. 22, 2022, at the Casey’s at 949 S. Grant Ave., a man who had a warrant for assaulting a police officer fled from officers. After he pulled a knife, he was tased. The man, identified as Tymel Bowman, was booked into the jail and then taken to the hospital where he died.
In the following days, news stories about Bowman’s death appeared in the local paper and on several local TV stations. The Associated Press picked up the story, and it was published on the U.S. News & World Reports’ website.
Days later, on the morning of Jan. 28 at the Kum & Go at 1704 W. Norton, less than five miles north of where Bowman was tased, a deputy tased a Highlandville man who had a warrant for not paying for his ankle monitor. That man, 27-year-old Sean Winslow, fell and hit his head. Winslow was taken to a Springfield hospital where he died a few days later.
News of Winslow’s death, however, never hit the media.
In the days immediately following the incident, his parents said they were focused on their son, who was braindead and cuffed to a hospital bed at Cox South.
But as the weeks and months went on, the Winslows came to believe race was the reason why their son’s death was seemingly being swept under the rug. Bowman was Black. Winslow was white.
Perhaps had Winslow been Black, a witness might have filmed the incident with their cell phone and shared it with the media, the family wondered. After all, the incident happened in broad daylight at a busy gas station.
It’s impossible to know for sure.
One fact is known: the two incidents were handled by different law enforcement agencies.
A 27-year-old Highlandville man died due to injuries sustained while being arrested by Greene County Sheriff’s Office. Information about the incident was not released to the public. Many people believe it is important for law enforcement agencies to transparent with the public when someone dies or is seriously injured when being taken into custody.
Springfield Police and Bowman Vs. Greene County Sheriff and Winslow
Bowman was arrested and tased by Springfield Police officers. The following morning, on Jan. 23, the department issued a news release to local media outlets and put the release on the Springfield Police Department’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. That release detailed what happened and that the suspect had died, but did not name him because his family had not yet been notified.
After Bowman’s family had been notified, a second news release was shared on Jan. 24 with media outlets and on social media that identified Bowman.
Winslow, on the other hand, was arrested and tased by deputies with the Greene County Sheriff’s Office.
It seems Greene County Sheriff’s Office did not share any information with news agencies about Winslow’s death. No statements or news releases were posted on Greene County Sheriff’s Office Facebook or Twitter accounts.
Sheriff Jim Arnott declined to be interviewed for this story.
The Daily Citizen asked Cris Swaters, spokesperson for the Springfield Police Department, about the police department’s reasons for almost immediately alerting the public about Bowman’s death as well as its policy regarding what information is released to the public when someone dies in custody and why it’s important.
Swaters provided a link to the department’s operating guideline for “News Media Relations”, which is available to the public on the City’s website. Swaters asked Police Chief Paul Williams to comment on the matter.
“Being transparent and providing accurate information is essential to ensure a positive relationship between the police and the citizens they serve,” Williams responded. “The Springfield community trusts their police department and the timely sharing of information, when available and possible, is essential to maintaining that relationship and the high level of trust associated with it.”
Story continues below:
This story is part of an in-depth report by Jackie Rehwald on a taser-related death in Springfield that went unreported to the public. So far this year, two men have died after being tased by law enforcement in Springfield. Tymel Bowman died shortly after being tased by officers with the Springfield Police Department on Jan.…
Differences in the cases
It’s worth noting other differences between Bowman’s and Winslow’s cases besides being handled by different law enforcement agencies.
Bowman was armed. According to the news release issued on Jan. 23, he pulled a knife on officers and attempted to pull a second knife. Bowman was tased twice, but it appeared the Taser deployments were ineffective, according to the release.
Officers struggled with Bowman and it took multiple officers to subdue the man and take him into custody.
Prior to being booked into jail, Bowman was transported by ambulance to a local hospital to be medically cleared, the release said. While en route to the hospital, Bowman stopped breathing and paramedics began CPR. Those efforts were not successful and he died that night at the hospital.
Bowman’s death is still under investigation, so his autopsy report and cause of death are not yet available to the public. Bowman was being arrested on a warrant for fourth-degree assault of a special victim (police officer).
In Winslow’s case, it’s unclear what happened that day because Greene County Sheriff’s Office has not released any information, and there doesn’t appear to be any online court documents related to his arrest or a warrant for his arrest.
What is known is that after Sean Winslow was tased at around 10:50 a.m., and was transported to Cox South. His parents were notified around 4 p.m. that day about the incident and told to go to the hospital.
When they arrived at the hospital, a doctor told them their son had “no brain activity on the brain stem.” He was removed from life support on Feb. 4, one week after being tased.
Sean Winslow’s autopsy report — which was provided to Sean’s father by both the sheriff’s office and the medical examiner’s office — states Sean Winslow’s cause of death was due to “blunt force head trauma with epidural hematoma,” and the underlying cause was a “fall secondary to discharge of a conducted-energy device.” The manner of death was accidental, the report says.
Winslow had a warrant for not paying ankle monitor fee, parents say
According to Sean Winslow’s dad, Kevin Winslow, Christian County had a warrant for his son’s arrest because Sean Winslow hadn’t paid the about $350 monthly fee for an ankle monitor in three months. Sean Winslow had to wear the monitor because an ex-girlfriend had a protection order on him, the family said and online court documents show.
Kevin Winslow filed a Sunshine Request to get any information related to his son’s arrest, but was denied because the incident is still under investigation.
The Daily Citizen, too, filed a Sunshine Request for this information.
Kevin Winslow said he asked a Kum & Go employee if he could view the store’s video surveillance, but was denied. He also asked the sheriff’s office if he could view video from the deputy’s body-worn camera, but said he was told the department does not use body-worn cameras.
Kevin Winslow said an investigator with the sheriff’s office — who has since stopped sharing information with the family — said this is what transpired that morning on the Kum & Go parking lot. The following details are paraphrased by the Daily Citizen:
Greene County Sheriff’s Office deputies used the ankle monitor to track Sean Winslow’s location at the Kum & Go. They arrived on the scene and told Sean Winslow he was under arrest. According to Kevin Winslow, the investigator said Sean Winslow was initially cooperative. He was never handcuffed and asked the arresting deputies if he could use the bathroom first. The deputies allowed Sean Winslow to go into the gas station to use the bathroom — still unhandcuffed. When Sean Winslow came out of the gas station, he took off running. Sean Winslow was tased at least once and fell, hitting his head. Sean Winslow was still able to talk immediately after the fall, but quickly became unresponsive. He was taken to Cox South where a surgeon removed part of his skull because Sean Winslow’s brain was swelling.
The arrest and tasing happened around 10:50 a.m. Kevin Winslow said an investigator showed up at their home in Highlandville around 3:30 p.m. with news of their son’s injuries.
“They already performed brain surgery on him, and he had no brain activity on his brain stem,” Kevin Winslow said. “He said, ‘The doctors want you up there. We want you up there.’”
Sean Winslow never regained consciousness, but was cuffed to the hospital bed and a deputy stood watch at Winslow’s hospital room, Kevin Winslow said.
“Literally chained to the bed,” his dad said, “and he was braindead.”
Kevin Winslow said the cuffs and ankle monitor were finally removed three or four days later.
On Feb. 4 — one week after being tased — Sean Winslow was taken off life support. His family worked with Mid-America Transplant to donate his organs.
The family wants answers, wants to view surveillance video
Based on what Kevin Winslow said the investigator told him on Jan. 28, Sean Winslow’s family feels if law enforcement handled the matter differently, their son would still be alive.
They acknowledged that their son should have been arrested that day, that he hadn’t been paying what he owed for the ankle monitor and that he shouldn’t have ran from deputies.
But, in their view, deputies should have put Sean Winslow in handcuffs from the start, and he shouldn’t have been allowed to use the bathroom at the gas station.
They believe there was no need to use a Taser because Sean Winslow was skinny and could have easily been subdued. Also, they point out that he was wearing an ankle monitor and could easily be tracked wherever he fled.
“I don’t understand why they tased him,” Kevin Winslow said. “If he was that big of a threat, why didn’t they handcuff him?”
Additionally, the Winslows question if all of the injuries they saw (and photographed and showed the Daily Citizen) on their son while he was lying in the hospital bed and/or are mentioned in his autopsy report came solely from being tased and falling to the ground.
With so many concerns and questions, Sean Winslow’s parents are desperate to see the video footage from that day.
“In my own mind, I want to know what happened,” Kevin Winslow said. “I want to know and I’ll never know. I’ll know part of it, but is that the whole story? I don’t know.”
Kevin Winslow said he was so angry about his son being fatally injured over an ankle monitor that he called the Court Probationary Services, the private company that contracts with Christian County for its probation services.
“I called the guy that put the ankle monitor on him and told him, if you are wanting that ankle monitor back that bad, I said, you go down there to Cox Hospital in the neurointensive care and you take it off his leg,” Kevin Winslow recalled. “I said, he is laying down there braindead. I said, go down there and take it off.”
The family is frustrated that GCSO won’t give them their son’s belongings like his clothes and cell phone. They’ve not been told who it was that tased their son.
They want to get an attorney who is not from Greene County to help them get to the bottom of what happened to their son.
“We told our son before he passed away there will be justice,” Carol Winslow said.
“What Greene County doesn’t realize is I will not give up,” Kevin Winslow said. “I will see this through.”
According to a spokesperson for Axon, the company that manufactures Tasers, the company cautions law enforcement agencies that use the weapon to avoid using a Taser when the subject is running and/or if the subject could fall and suffer serious injury to the head unless “the situation justifies an increased risk.”
Autopsy found meth in bloodstream. Parents: ‘That doesn’t mean we loved him any less’
According to his parents, Sean Winslow was “like any other kid” as a youth. He liked to play ball and run track. He loved to draw, especially pictures of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
“He had a hard time in school. He had to go to alternative school his senior year,” Carol Winslow said. “But he got all his work done. He was done by February.
“After he graduated, he did things he wasn’t supposed to,” she said. “He made it through drug court. He was off drugs for three years.”
His parents noted that in his autopsy report, Sean Winslow had methamphetamines in his blood at the time of his death.
“But they didn’t know he was on drugs,” Kevin Winslow said of the arresting deputies. “They didn’t know nothing about him.
“They were going after him because he didn’t pay for his ankle monitor,” Carol Winslow said.
“He just had a hard 20s,” his mom said, crying. “But that doesn’t mean we loved him any less.”
“He was a turd once in a while,” Kevin Winslow added. “He was our son, and he didn’t deserve to die like that.”
The family recalls Sean’s heart-wrenching final days
When they arrived at the hospital about five hours after Sean Winslow was tased, both hospital staff and Greene County deputies refused to let Sean’s parents in to see him, Kevin Winslow said.
They returned to the hospital the next morning, determined to see their son.
“I fought with them. I fought with the investigator. I fought with everybody I could fight with to get in to see him,” Kevin Winslow said. “It was a battle.”
The Winslows were told on that day that Sean had tested positive for COVID-19, and that’s why they couldn’t be inside his room. However, they were also told Sean had three negative COVID-19 tests over the following days so they do not believe their son was ever sick.
They were allowed to stand outside Sean Winslow’s room and look at him through the large window for 30 minutes.
They returned the next day — Sunday, Jan. 30 — and again were only allowed to stand outside that window for 30 minutes.
That night a surgeon called and said Sean’s condition had worsened. The surgeon said he might have to remove more of the brain cap due to the swelling, but would try a medicine first.
“I said, ‘You do whatever you can do to save my son,’” Kevin Winslow said. “I said, ‘Do it. Do what you need to to do.’”
The medicine seemed to work for a time and the brain swelling went down.
On Monday, they were told one parent could go into the room.
Knowing that Sean had a special bond with his mother and that she has “a mother’s touch,” Kevin Winslow said they decided it would be best for Carol Winslow to go in. She got to spend about an hour with her son.
On Tuesday, they were told Sean had again taken a turn for the worse.
“They said there’s basically no hope,” Kevin Winslow said, adding the doctor said when Sean fell after being tased that he cracked his skull and had a stroke on the right side of his brain. By that Tuesday, the stroke had moved to the front hemisphere and to the back hemisphere.
Sean had other injuries that the family found troublesome and suspect there might be more to the story than him simply being tased and falling down.
His sinus cavity and right clavicle were fractured, Kevin Winslow said.
In addition to skull fractures and brain injuries, the autopsy report notes that Sean Winslow had an “acute comminuted displaced mid right clavicular fracture” and a “non-displaced fracture of the anteromedial right maxillary sinus.”
“His face right here was all scratched up,” Carol Winslow said, showing a cell phone photo of her son in the hospital bed.
“They brought in the organ donation team, and they talked to us,” Kevin Winslow said. “We decided that if we could help other people not go through what we’re going through, we would do it.”
Carol Winslow, sitting nearby, continued to cry as her husband shared about their son’s organ donations.
The plan was to remove Sean from life support and do surgery to remove the organs on Thursday. But there was heavy snow in Tennessee — where Sean Winslow’s heart was destined — and flights were being canceled.
Midwest Transplant told the family they knew it was a “big ask,” but asked if taking Sean Winslow off life support could wait until Friday. The family agreed.
On Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, Sean Winslow was wheeled out of his hospital room at CoxSouth and greeted by hospital staff, nurses and physicians who lined the hall to the operating room — honoring him for donating organs. The hospital chaplain prayed over his body before the life support machines were turned off.
“It took him 30 minutes to pass away,’ Carol Winslow said. “The one thing that gives me comfort is he is not having to fight his addiction. He’s not having to fight other people. And that is what helps, to know he is in a better place.”
His heart went to someone in Tennessee.
His liver went to someone in St. Louis.
One of his kidneys went to someone in Kansas City.
According to his parents, Sean Winslow’s death has taken a toll on everyone in the family.
“It’s been like we’ve been in an out-of-body experience,” Kevin Winslow said. “It’s hard on the family. Everybody has stuck together. We’ve prayed. The number one thing that has helped us — I don’t know if you’re a Christian — but God is the only thing that has pulled us through this. Without God and without our family, we wouldn’t have made it.
“A lot of it is not being able to understand why it happened,” he continued. “I keep running through my mind — why didn’t they handcuff him? That’s my big question. Why? None of this would have happened. We wouldn’t be sitting here talking today if they would have handcuffed him.
“I’m as bullheaded as they come, and I will not give up. I won’t give up. I promised (Sean) that I would do everything I could do,” Kevin Winslow said. “We just want justice for our son.”
Editor’s note: The original version of this story said it was unclear if the Winslow investigation was ongoing or closed because the Greene County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson had not yet responded to the Daily Citizen’s request for this information. After the story was published, she responded that the case is ongoing.