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Monday, August 11, 2008

Illinois man dies

August 11, 2008

Kiethedric Hines, 31, Rockford, Illinois died on August 10th

This is the SECOND taser-related death in Rockford, Illinois in two months.

ROCKFORD - Authorities detail investigation into the death of a man tasered by police.

Rockford Police say Kiethedric Hines, 31, tried getting into an apartment at 3319 1/2 Darwood Drive. His daughter's mother, who was inside at the time, called police. When officers arrived, Hines allegedly took off and police chased him a couple blocks over to Idlewood Terrace. Neighbors in that area say Hines jumped a fence before being tased by officers.

At a press conference Monday evening, Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson said the officer who used the taser on Hines acted appropriately. Deputy Police Chief Greg Lindmark adds the police officers felt threatened and had to use the taser and pepper spray to subdue Hines.

The preliminary autopsy shows the shock from the taser did not kill Hines.

Loella and Robert Penzotti didn't see the actual tasing, but did notice Hines walking back to the patrol car and being searched by officers. Robert says, "Then all of a sudden he just kinda turned around and he slumped down to the ground, to the pavement actually, and he leaned back on the front tire."

At first the Penzottis just thought Hines was resisting arrest and didn't want to be put in the back of the car. Loella says, "You know how some of them don't want to get in the squad car and things like that so they fight against it. It never occurred to us that it could've been anything worse than that."

Hines died in the Emergency Room at Rockford Memorial Hospital while he was still technically in police custody.

This is the second taser death for the Rockford Police Department in just two months. InJune, Rockford police say 29-year-old Ernest Graves was seen running away from a domestic disturbance call on 16th Street. When police caught up with him, they tased him and he later died at the hospital. At the press conference Monday, Winnebago County Coroner Sue Fiduccia spoke about Graves' death. She says the autopsy showed no signs of heart attack, stroke, aneurysm or brain tumor. The autopsy did show there was cocaine, marijuana and alcohol in Graves' bloodstream. A toxicology report is still pending.

The two recent taser-related deaths have some wondering if tasers are the answer. "If it was only one this year, you might've thought it was just the person." That's why she thinks the department should really think twice about using the weapons to slow people down. "I think they need to reassess the thing as to the strength and what it's doing to people."

If final autopsy results show Hines' death was caused by the taser gun, Chief Epperson says his department is open to looking at policy changes on taser guns.

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