September 17, 2008
Dothan Eagle (Dothan, Alabama)
Working in law enforcement presents a unique set of problems. For most people, death is perhaps the most unlikely circumstance to affect the work day. In law enforcement, it lurks around every corner. It could be waiting for the officer or for whomever the officer may engage. The work can turn from mundane to visceral in the blink of an eye.
When things get ugly, we depend on law enforcement personnel to stand between the madness and the rest of us. We appreciate the willingness of these men and women to serve in that role; it’s a job many people would not want. However, it’s also important to examine procedures and particular incidents to ensure that the rules that govern civilized society are followed when police action is required.
Readers who feel strong support for law enforcement officers often criticize us whenever we raise questions about law enforcement and its application. We admire their loyalty, but we remind them that we’re not “anti-cop,” we’re for truth, justice and open government. If something goes wrong, it should be revealed in the light of day. Scrutiny doesn’t diminish good law enforcement; it simply helps keep it afloat. And when there are troubling questions about the circumstances of an arrest — particularly one in which a seemingly healthy suspect dies after being subdued with a stun gun — we will push the pursuit of truth without regard for whom it implicates or absolves.
That’s why we’re dismayed by the findings of the autopsy of Nicholas Cody, who died several days after struggling with a Houston County deputy, who shot Cody several times with a Taser stun gun. The autopsy found that Cody, a 27-year-old man in seemingly good health, had cocaine in his system, but did not specify a quantity. His cause of death was listed as consistent with “excited delirium.”
We’re troubled by this controversial term, the use of which has grown dramatically among medical examiners, particularly with regard to suspects who die in police custody. The conclusion is drawn from the presence of cocaine in the victims, and many emergency medical personnel are familiar with the symptoms that suggest “excited delirium,” but the state is not recognized by the American Medical Association or leading mental health authorities.
Certainly Cody’s use of cocaine did not help matters, but for the sake of the arresting officer and the victim’s family, a more specific determination of the case of Cody’s death, preferably one unfettered by 20 years of controversy, would be more conclusive.
Marianna Man Dies From Cocaine Use While Being Tasered
Alabama state forensics experts now say a Marianna man, who was tasered during a traffic stop in Dothan back in June, died from his cocaine use. Houston County sheriff's deputies say they tried to stop 27-year-old Nicholas Cody on June 15th for a seatbelt violation. They say Cody then tried to flee the scene on Highway 231 south. Deputies shocked him at least 3-times with a taser. They previously said he appeared to have a seizure after the third tasing, and called paramedics. Cody died on June 27, about a week after he was admitted to Southeast Alabama Medical Center. The Dothan Medical Examiner says the autopsy showed Cody died from excited delirium, a side effect of drug use.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
September 17, 2008