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Man Dies After Police Taser Shock

Washington Post via YellowBrix

April 30, 2010

ARLINGTON, VA – An Arlington man who was apparently in psychiatric distress died early Friday after a police officer used a Taser in an attempt to subdue him, police said.

It was the second death in an incident involving a Taser in the county this year.

Lt. William Griffith, an Arlington County police spokesman, said officers and medics were called to an apartment building in the 5500 block of Columbia Pike about 12:30 a.m. for a “psychiatric emergency.”

They found a man who was “unclothed and uncooperative . . . He refused all verbal commands and was combative with the officers attempting to assist him,” Griffith said.

A few minutes after an officer deployed a Taser device to try and bring the man under control, Griffith said, police saw that the man did not appear to be breathing. Medics began trying to resuscitate him, and transported him to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The man’s name and age were not immediately available. Police said he did not live in the apartment, but was visiting family there. It was a relative who called police after the man became distressed, Griffith said.

Both the internal affairs division and the homicide/robbery division are investigating the incident, Griffith said. Detectives remained at the scene of the apartment for several hours overnight, taking photographs and collecting evidence.

The officer who deployed the Taser remains on active duty, but could be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation if the man’s death is determined to have been caused by the Taser.

The incident was the fourth time this year that Arlington police have deployed Tasers, which administer an electric jolt and are designed to be safer than firearms. Two of those confrontations did not involve death or injury, Griffith said.

But on Jan. 17, a 36-year-old District man died after being Tasered during a confrontation with police on the Pentagon City Metro platform.

William R. Bumbrey III allegedly became aggressive when an officer approached him on the Metro platform to question him about a recent theft from a nearby pharmacy, police said. After the officer used his Taser, Bumbrey continued to struggle, police said at the time, but eventually was restrained and handcuffed. ad_icon

Soon after, officers saw that Bumbrey was in medical distress. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

At the time, Detective Crystal Nosal, a county police spokeswoman, said Tasers have been in the department’s arsenal since 2004. Nosal said police officers receive special training on use of the devices. Tasers are used in the county, on average, fewer than 20 times each year.

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