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Monday, July 28, 2008

North Carolina man dies after being arrested

UPDATE November 15, 2008

Autopsy: Tasers' shocks didn't kill man
By Donna Swicegood, Statesville Record & Landmark

Published: November 15, 2008

The autopsy of a Statesville man who died in July after being shocked with Tasers at the Iredell County Detention Center shows he died of a condition known as excited delirium.

Anthony Dewayne Davidson, 29, died July 27 after being arrested the day before on a shoplifting charge. Urine samples taken before he died revealed traces of cocaine in his system, according to the autopsy report.

Officers from the Statesville Police Department and staff from the jail deployed Tasers after they said Davidson became uncooperative and aggressive and tried to run.

Davidson was taken to Iredell Memorial Hospital after a jail nurse said he needed to be medically cleared because of his behavior, said SPD Interim Chief Tom Anderson.

Davidson died about 30 hours later, after being taken off life support.

The State Bureau of Investigation is conducting an inquiry into Davidson's death. The SBI has not completed its final report.

The autopsy report, obtained Friday, cites complications from excited delirium as the cause of death.

Dr. Deborah Radisch of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Raleigh said excited delirium "causes the sudden cardiorespiratory collapse and arrest following an agitated state necessitating the use of restraints, and is generally seen in the context of the use of a stimulant such as cocaine."

Davidson's postmortem toxicology results show no traces of alcohol or narcotic drugs.

But the urine sample, taken at the hospital at 6:01 p.m. on July 26, showed the presence of cocaine, Radisch reported.

The autopsy also showed puncture wounds, associated with the Taser, on the right upper chest, left thigh and possibly the mid-back area.

There were also numerous bruises and lacerations, including on the face and upper shoulders, wrists and both ankles. The doctor said the injuries on the ankles and wrists were consistent with handcuffs and shackles.

Davidson's family contends that he was beaten by officers and jailers and the Taser shocks caused his death.

Charity Davidson, Davidson's wife, said she saw bruises and what she described as a big knot over his eye when he was at the hospital.

The autopsy indicates no damage to any of Davidson's internal organs nor any broken bones.

Redmond said the injuries were all consistent with the struggle between officers and Davidson.

The events that led to Davidson's death started around 3 p.m. on July 26 when police answered a call about a shoplifting at Food Lion on Wilkesboro Highway.

"He tried to pay with a debit card and it was declined," Anderson said. Davidson left the cart of groceries, but took an Applebees gift card and left the store, he said.

Officers found him walking in the area of Little Caesar's Pizza and took him into custody. He was taken back to the store, where the gift card was returned, and arrested.

Nothing was out of the ordinary until after Davidson saw the magistrate and was being taken to the jail for processing.

"His whole attitude, his demeanor changed. It was totally unexpected. This was a minor larceny charge," Anderson said.

Davidson, he said, became combative, fighting with officers and jailers, something Redmond described as "casting them off like flies."

After a struggle, during which three officers — two jailers and an SPD officer — deployed Tasers, Davidson calmed down and was taken to the jail nurse.

"She suspected he was on some type of substance and said he needed to be medically cleared before being processed," Anderson said.

Charity Davidson said Friday she had not seen the autopsy report and wanted to speak with her attorney before commenting on the report.

However, she did say she was surprised by the cocaine finding. "He didn't take anything before he went in there (referring to the store)," she said.

The exact amount of cocaine in his system will be determined by toxicology results on blood taken at the hospital rather than at autopsy and those results haven't been released.

Capt. Darren Campbell of the Iredell County Sheriff's Office said the autopsy findings are consistent with the investigation and reports from jail personnel as to what happened.

Anderson said he wasn't surprised by the official cause of death.

"We've reviewed the investigation. I've seen the videotapes," he said. "He was not Tasered to death."


July 29, 2008 UPDATE: The Charlotte Observer says today that Anthony Davidson was shocked several times.

July 28, 2008
STEVE LYTTLE, The Charlotte Observer

Statesville police this morning said they have launched an investigation into the death of a man who was taken into custody Saturday afternoon.

They are looking into the possibility that use of a Taser by police might have played a role in the man's death.

Anthony Davidson died in a hospital overnight. He had been arrested in connection with an alleged theft at a Food Lion store in Statesville.

There are reports that police used a Taser on Davidson during the arrest, but it is too early to know if the device had any role in the victim's death.

Davidson was taken before a magistrate a short time after being taken into custody, but he collapsed a short time later and was hospitalized.

In March, a 17-year-old Charlotte man, Darryl Wayne Turner, died after police used a Taser on him -- also at a Food Lion store. Earlier this month, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer was suspended for five days for his role in the Taser incident.

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