Zac Hershley is a wounded veteran, suffering from severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of his service to our country. He is currently incarcerated for crimes that he did not commit. Making matters worse, Zac's incarceration is preventing him from continuing his vital treatment with his VA medical team, the only medical professionals equipped to handle Zac's condition.
In April, 2010, Zac was on probation after a traffic ticket. He had a flashback, which is common for PTSD sufferers but terrifying nevertheless. Dissociated and afraid, Zac called 911 for help. His wife called 911 immediately afterward to clarify the situation and asked for an ambulance to transport her husband safely to the hospital, where he could get help. Instead, SWAT officers hid in the bushes outside their home, making an already terrifying situation even worse. The rifle that Zac had to protect himself from those he believed were hunting him was not loaded at the time, which Zac's wife had already relayed to the 911 dispatcher. After negotiation, Zac surrendered and was taken to the hospital for 72 hours. He was charged with a misdemeanor for unlawful weapons, which was thrown out because the rifle was unloaded, but Zac was threatened with a felony charge if he refused to plead guilty to the misdemeanor. A man of integrity, Zac still refused to plead guilty because he had called 911 asking for help, not as a criminal, and he had not done anything wrong. Shortly thereafter, Zac was charged with Felony Assault of a Law Enforcement Officer. Zac never assaulted anyone or even so much as pointed the unloaded weapon at anyone. Testimony from everyone involved supports this fact. At the same time, Zac was seeking inpatient treatment for his PTSD. His provider then denied him all of his medication because this facility was outside the VA system, resulting in a dissociative state during which Zac was coerced into entering an Alford plea for the Felony Assault charge. He has no memory of signing any such agreement. When Zac completed the inpatient program, he was sentenced to 85 days in jail for violating his probation. To clarify, Zac's desperate call for help was classified as "police contact" and a probation violation.
This is not only cruel and unusual punishment and a perversion of justice; it is also a serious liability for the Platte County Corrections Department. PTSD is a delicate and complicated condition, and every day that Zac spends in jail worsens his mental health. He is entirely without much-needed treatment and in an environment filled with triggers that leave him constantly anxious and depressed.
Please, help us right this horrendous injustice, and sign this petition requesting that Zac be released immediately so that he can continue the treatment that is vital to not only his health, but his survival. No one should be punished for asking for help, but that is exactly what has happened here.