Officer Suspended After Taser Use Causes Death - Charlotte, NC

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Thread: Officer Suspended After Taser Use Causes Death - Charlotte, NC

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    Officer Suspended After Taser Use Causes Death - Charlotte, NC

    Charlotte News - Local News Charlotte | Charlotte Observer

    A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer has been suspended for violating policy when he shocked a teen with a Taser gun for about 37 seconds, contributing to the teen's death.

    Police announced Wednesday that Officer Jerry Dawson Jr. held the Taser trigger until 17-year-old Darryl Turner fell to the floor during a confrontation at a north Charlotte grocery store. The officer later shocked Turner a second time for five seconds.

    Turner, who worked at the grocery store, died from cardiac arrest. The autopsy showed the teenager's heart was pumping so fast and chaotically from the stress of the confrontation and the Taser shot that it stopped pumping blood properly.

    “We have deep regret and sympathy for that family. Officer Dawson also is in a great deal of pain,” said Deputy Chief Ken Miller, who oversees training. “Nobody feels good about the outcome.”

    Prosecutors announced last week they would not charge Dawson, and found his use of force appropriate under N.C. law.

    But police suspended Dawson, a 15-year veteran, for five days without pay. They released a surveillance video from the store Wednesday and more details about the March 20 confrontation.

    Dawson, 39, will receive additional training on the proper use of a Taser.

    His suspension follows an internal affairs investigation and a private hearing Tuesday before a review board of his supervisors, internal affairs investigators and a civilian.

    “After a thorough review of the evidence, the board determined that the initial decision to discharge the Taser was within our procedures, but the prolonged use of the Taser was not,” police said.

    A Taser is a weapon that typically uses compressed nitrogen to shoot two tethered needle-like probes that penetrate skin and deliver an electric shock. It's designed to temporarily subdue a person.

    CMPD teaches officers to pull and immediately release the Taser trigger to deliver a five-second shock. Officers may repeatedly pull the trigger in extreme circumstances when necessary to control a suspect. Holding down the trigger violates department policy.

    Police said they're reviewing their Taser policies.

    In 2005, after reports raised questions about Taser safety, CMPD prohibited prolonged shocks because they appeared to increase the risk for respiratory failure, Miller said.

    Unlike some police departments, CMPD does not limit how many times an officer can shock a suspect, although it encourages officers to minimize their use of force.

    Officer Dawson told investigators that he held down the trigger because the shock did not subdue Turner. Despite commands to stop, police said, Turner stepped toward the officer then walked past him.

    “He didn't think he was getting the full energy so he held it,” Miller said. “He was afraid if he undid it, Turner would be violent and possibly harm the store manager or himself.”

    Turner's death was the first Taser-related fatality in the CMPD's history. It happened during a three-month period earlier this year when police also shot five suspects with firearms – killing one and wounding four. Not since the fall of 1998 had police used deadly force as frequently.

    Officers used Tasers about 100 times in both 2005 and 2006.

    Surveillance video from the Food Lion shows Turner at the customer service desk, knocking over a display, then throwing an umbrella. Turner then moves closer to a store manager and employee, at one point raising his arm and pointing at the manager. A customer at the desk pushes her child away from the confrontation.

    Officer Dawson is shown walking through the front door, and seconds later, carrying what appears to be his Taser. Dawson approaches Turner with the Taser pointed at him. Turner takes a step toward the officer, then continues to walk past him. It's unclear from the video when Turner is shocked, but police say it happened as Turner stepped toward the officer.

    Turner then walks toward the front door, followed closely by Dawson, whose Taser remains attached to Turner.

    Both then walk out of the camera's view.

    Mecklenburg District Attorney Peter Gilchrist said Wednesday his office made the right decision in not prosecuting Dawson.

    “The fact that the police department has decided he violated policies does not make the actions of the officer a criminal offense,” Gilchrist said.

    Turner family attorney Ken Harris disputes prosecutors' claim that the use of force was appropriate. Harris said Wednesday he's had concerns about how long Turner was shocked.

    “We're happy that this information, including the videotape, has been released to the public,” said Harris, who is considering a lawsuit over the death. “We look forward to a jury interpreting the videotape.”

    Turner's mother says her son came home for lunch on March 20 and told her he'd stolen a couple of Hot Pockets from the store. Tammy Fontenot said she told her son to return to the store and admit what he'd done.

    Turner returned to work after lunch, and a supervisor told him to remove a lollipop from his mouth and tuck in his shirt. The teenager began cursing, prosecutors said.

    The supervisor contacted the store manager to inform him what was happening. She told him she felt threatened and was going to call police.

    Here's what police said happened then:

    Dawson responded to a call around 1:15 p.m. about a disturbance at the Food Lion on Prosperity Church Road.

    When Dawson arrived, he saw Turner throwing objects at the store manager and yelling. The officer also saw Turner walk toward store personnel in a threatening manner.

    Dawson ordered Turner to stop. But Turner turned and started to walk toward Dawson, police said. That's when Dawson discharged his Taser.

    Turner continued to walk while he was being shocked, then grabbed a small store rack and threw it across the floor.

    “Officer Dawson held the trigger of the Taser down until Mr. Turner fell to the ground,” the police statement said. “The continuous duration of this discharge was approximately 37 seconds.”

    Police said Dawson then ordered Turner to put his hands behind his back. When the teen didn't comply, Dawson discharged his Taser again, this time shocking the teen for five seconds.

    Police Chief Rodney Monroe pledged in a statement Wednesday that he will release as much information as possible about such cases of public interest, as long as it doesn't interfere with an investigation or violate personnel laws.
    A sad situation. I feel bad for both Turner's family and the officer involved.
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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    Wouldn't that kinda be like hitting the guy with a nightstick and after he's down continuing to beat him,Try Timing 37 seconds just don't do anything for 37 seconds it's a looooong time to be tazing somebody,I bet the parents win a huge lawsuit for wrongful death
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    One quick point, you cannot countinuesly taze someone for 37 seconds... the taser only cycles in 5 second intervals.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    Quote Originally Posted by SIXTO View Post
    One quick point, you cannot countinuesly taze someone for 37 seconds... the taser only cycles in 5 second intervals.
    So your saying he intentionally kept repeatedly pulling the trigger for an extended period of time,unless he was tazing superman the situations I've seen on tv usually 1 maybe 2 zaps and they lose the will to fight
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    Quote Originally Posted by dukalmighty View Post
    So your saying he intentionally kept repeatedly pulling the trigger for an extended period of time,unless he was tazing superman the situations I've seen on tv usually 1 maybe 2 zaps and they lose the will to fight
    Thats what I'm saying, if indeed he was being tazed for 37 seconds. A lot of the numbers get screwed up because they will count the time of initial taze, to the very end time of the last cycle, so 37 seconds would not be accurate. He may have only got a few seconds worth of the "ride" but 37 seconds was the elapsed total time.

    Taking an educated guess, this reads like a text book excited delirium case, which is most often brought on by drug use.

    Also, the fact the officer is suspended does not indicate he did anything wrong, like the article insinuates.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    That's when Dawson discharged his Taser.

    Turner continued to walk while he was being shocked ...

    “Officer Dawson held the trigger of the Taser down until Mr. Turner fell to the ground,” ... [37 seconds total]
    Hard to tell from an article, since there are variables not reported.

    Seems that the typical immediate lock-up of muscles isn't what occurred in this case.

    Continued threatening of an LEO isn't healthy. That basic precept should be understood by everyone.

    In the end, we're left with this: had he not continued walking towards the LEO, he likely would not have been Tased in the first place; had he not been so immune to the basic effects of being Tased, he would not have been Tased for "37 seconds."

    Further, I wonder if this person's blood chemistry showed he was "on" something other than Cheerios, at the time of the Tasing, as many (most?) folks who get Tased then drop dead seem to be.
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    It is unfortunate that the kid died, but don't be a poo-head and you don't get tased.

    Sixto: Is it possible that this department uses a different brand/model of device and they are just generically calling it "taser?" I don't actually know if different brands exist in the States, just curious. I'd read of a civilian version that supposedly gives a 30 second ride so you can escape.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SIXTO View Post
    Thats what I'm saying, if indeed he was being tazed for 37 seconds. A lot of the numbers get screwed up because they will count the time of initial taze, to the very end time of the last cycle, so 37 seconds would not be accurate. He may have only got a few seconds worth of the "ride" but 37 seconds was the elapsed total time.

    Taking an educated guess, this reads like a text book excited delirium case, which is most often brought on by drug use.

    Also, the fact the officer is suspended does not indicate he did anything wrong, like the article insinuates.

    Something smells in this story. I wonder if his taser even was working properly the first time.
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    The death is unfortunate, but the guy did initiate the conflict. They guy clearly disobeyed the officer's commands. Cops have tough jobs - I don't know why so many journalist feel they can quarterback in hindsight. Let them try on the uniform for a week - I'll bet they would sing a different tune.

    Wound'nt be an issue if leos were still allowed to use the nightstick. I suspect many petty crimes would drop if perps got a good crack upside the head early on in their, ahem, "careers."

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    VIP Member Array crzy4guns's Avatar
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    Most of the taser deaths that I have read about the victim was using illegal drugs.

    The LEO has no way of knowing at that time if the perpetrator is a drug user.

    Like Cupcake said, don't be a poo-head and you don't get tased.
    God bless our troops!

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    most of the "journalists" are concerned that a possible "miscarriage" of justice occurred, we do need non-LEO oversight of departments and policies

    In this instance it appears that the "journalist" is concerned that some fool got the death penalty for misdemeanor assault and resisting arrest

    OMO


    people need to raise their kids better - and then things like this might be avoided...

    it appears that the officer deployed the taser in accordance with departmental policies and then violated that policy in his continued deployment of same... the department seems to be dealing with it - as they should

    sad for the family - not so sad for the officer (glad he is getting the additional training)

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    Well, This is one time me & Sundance are sideing with the lawdogs.
    When the police tell you to do something, you'd better listen, if this guy wasn't showing his you know what and had done as the officer instructed, he wouldn't have gotten tased to begin with.
    This sends a strong messages to the rest of the punks out there, score one for the leo's. I would not have suspended him.

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    I'd be interested in the autopsy...drugs, heart condition, severe overweight, etc etc...

    Rick

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    VIP Member Array crzy4guns's Avatar
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    So would I, somehow I don't think this lad was your friendly neighborhood eagle scout.

    This was probably not his first run-in with the cops.
    God bless our troops!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cupcake View Post
    It is unfortunate that the kid died, but don't be a poo-head and you don't get tased.
    Honest, toward this that was my first thought.

    I've seen a lot of TASER 'victim' videos through the years as well as two people IRL ride the rail.
    I've yet to see as much deployed and applied without it being the person of concern having acted like he/she was having a problem and being an asshat up to and until the shock was delivered. Including that"Don't tase me bro!" college kid from last year.

    As I see it a TASER is the same as a gun when it comes to the po-po.
    The pain is same as an end result as well as potential toward suffering a lethal blow. The biggest difference being there is no hole made in your body or bloody mess to clean up.

    Act right and you're very much unlikely to get shot by a cop.
    Don't act right and you're very much likely to at the least get tased.
    IMHO being tased is a far better option than being shot, or as per the old days having a wooden club or lead shot blackjack/sap taken upside your head.

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