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Man Dies In Phoenix After 3 Taser Shots

Aug 25, 2004 | Arizona Republic

Police are investigating the death of a man struck three times by shots from Taser stun guns during a struggle with officers Tuesday afternoon on a Phoenix street.

The unidentified 27-year-old man was pronounced dead less than an hour after the incident, which started about 2:30 p.m. when the man jumped atop a police patrol car parked near Illini and 18th streets, Phoenix police Sgt. Randy Force said.

Authorities have not determined how the man died, but a witness told investigators he may have been using cocaine, Force said.

"He was cognizant, yelling and struggling at the scene, and there was no indication there was anything wrong with him," Force said. "We have to let the Medical Examiner's Office do the autopsy, but we have no idea whether it was drugs or a pre-existing medical condition or a technique used during the arrest process."

Force gave the following account of the incident:

A sergeant and three officers in two separate vehicles were conducting surveillance for a drug investigation when the man, who was unrelated to the case, threw himself on the windshield of a patrol car and began yelling incoherently.

Officers followed the man as he walked away from the car and rounded a corner. When he spotted police, the man again ran toward the vehicle and jumped on the bumper before officers attempted to detain him.

The man pushed the officers and began to struggle, prompting an officer to deploy his stun gun.

Investigators believe the Taser was ineffective because one of the two probes missed the man, who was described as 6 feet 3 inches tall and 220 pounds.

Police then brought the struggling suspect to the ground and used a Taser twice on the man's leg.

The stun-gun shots apparently had no effect on the man, so a sergeant used a choke hold to temporarily knock the man unconscious and allow officers to handcuff him.

Seconds later, the man regained consciousness and continued struggling with officers, who summoned paramedics to evaluate him.

Paramedics took the man to Phoenix Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:15 p.m.

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