A 32-year-old man died after struggling with a sheriff’s deputy who shocked him twice with a stun gun, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.
Deputy Jennifer Sanderson found the man walking in the roadway on U.S. 92 about 10 p.m. Thursday, a sheriff’s report said. He appeared to be intoxicated, and the deputy tried to guide him off the road.
The man, Jason Yeagley, attacked the deputy, striking her at least once and throwing away her handcuffs, the report said.
She shocked him once with her Taser, which is designed to subdue a suspect, but it had little effect. She shocked him a second time and managed to get him handcuffed.
When backup deputies arrived, they noticed that he was ”going into some type of medical distress,” the report said.
An ambulance took him to Lakeland Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
An autopsy Friday found no signs of medical problems or injuries to Yeagley’s body, but the cause of death is pending toxicology tests, which can take several weeks, officials said.
Col. Gary Hester of the Sheriff’s Office said that Sanderson’s use of the Taser was justified, and that the final autopsy results will probably show that it was not the cause of death.
There have been other instances of people dying after being hit with a stun gun, but Hester told The News Chief newspaper in nearby Winter Haven that “what you find in almost all of those cases is what precipitates their death has nothing to do with pepper spray or Tasers or restraining them. It’s some pre-existing condition or it’s drug-induced.”