REDWOOD CITY, California – The reigning Mr. Universe was sprayed with Mace and wrestled to the ground by police officers, who mistakenly believed he was intoxicated when the diabetic bodybuilder actually was going through insulin shock.
Despite the misunderstanding, Doug Burns was arrested for misdemeanor assault and resisting arrest for the incident at a downtown movie theater Sunday night. Redwood City Police Capt. Chris Cessina said officers reported that Burns, 43, had assumed a fighting stance and it took four officers to bring him into submission.
"The fact is Mr. Burns assaulted our officer," Cessina told the San Mateo Daily Journal. "If he had just stood there and let us help him, maybe they would have called the medics if he didn't seem to fit the description of being under the influence."
Burns, who was trying a new diabetes drug on that night, said he was preparing to see a film when he felt dizziness and poor vision — a sign of low blood sugar — and hurried to a snack counter.
A security guard noticed Burns' strange behavior and asked him to leave, thinking he was intoxicated, Cessina said. When he refused, the guard called police.
When officers arrived, Burns allegedly lunged at one of them, pushing him to the ground with both hands, and took a fighting stance, Cessina said. Burns continued being combative until four officers wrestled him down, the captain said.
During the scuffle, the officers did not notice Burns' Medic Alert bracelet. An on-scene medical test later confirmed that Burns had low blood sugar during the incident, Cessina said.
Burns, a board member of the American Diabetes Association who often speaks to raise awareness about the condition, said he doesn't remember the incident clearly, but could explain the behavior that police described.
"I could understand if I was belligerent or had track marks, but I was nicely dressed and I don't think I fit the profile or smelled like alcohol," Burns told the San Mateo Daily Journal.
A court date has not yet been set in the case.