Debro Lamonte Wilkerson of Manassas, Va died Saturday after being tased by Prince William County Police.
According to WUSA9.com, Mr. Wilkerson was being treated for a medical emergency when police say he became combative with paramedics. He then lunged at an officer, who in self defense deployed a taser.
Officers were in the process of placing handcuffs on Wilkerson, however he jumped up and ran out of the ambulance. He then assaulted a relative, but finally let her go after police threatened to use pepper spray.
While in custody Mr. Wilkerson told police that he had been using heroin and PCP. Once they returned to the ambulance he again lunged at them and ran out of the ambulance. Police officers caught up to him and deployed a taser again to stop him. Wilkerson continued to resist arrest.
According to the police report, while officers restrained him, paramedics applied medical treatment. He eventually became very passive, and his vital signs began to deteriorate. They could no longer find a pulse and began resuscitation efforts. Mr. Wilkerson was taken to the hospital, but was later pronounced dead.
An investigation is still on going, and an autopsy is schedule to be performed today.
While tasers are designed to be a safe alternative to guns there are still incidences of taser related deaths, many of which have lead to lawsuits.
In 2008, the largest stun-gun maker lost a $6.2 million lawsuit over the death of Robert Heston, a California man shot multiple times with a taser by police. The products liability lawsuit against Taser International Inc., alleged that the company failed to warn police that prolonged exposure to electric shock could cause cardiac arrest.
In 2009, Pamela Brown won $65,000 in a federal lawsuit after police tased her on Granby Street in Norfolk, Va. Pamela Brown who has a brain injury from being hit by a truck years ago, was listening to music and hula hooping on a median. She was tased because she began hitting an officer who asked her to turn down a radio.
In 2010, a North Carolina family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Taser International Inc., over the death of their teenage son. Darryl Wayne Turner died of cardiac arrest after being tased twice by police. According to FoxCarolina.com, the officer first held the trigger for 37 seconds, and then again for 5 seconds. The jury awarded $10 million to the family stating the company did not provide adequate warning or instruction about the use of the stun-gun to Charlotte police creating an unreasonably dangerous condition.
Amnesty International estimates that over 350 people have been killed in taser related deaths.