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Monday, May 11, 2009

Use of a Taser on a Michigan teenager played a role in his death

May 11, 2009
By Terry Camp, WJRT

A medical examiner has ruled that the use of a Taser on a Bay City teenager played a role in his death. But that's only one part of the medical examiner's findings.

In March, police used a Taser on 15-year-old Brett Elder after being called to a Bay City home in response to a fight. According to police, Elder was unruly and took a fighting stance against the three police officers when they responded to the call about a disturbance.

Elder died and the incident grabbed national attention -- and prompted protests.

Right now, the Bay County Prosecutor is reviewing the case.

Oakland County Assistant Medical Examiner Kanu Virani says the cause of his death is two-fold. The first part is identified as alcohol-induced excited delirium syndrome -- which has been ruled the cause of death in other cases involving a Taser.

The autopsy indicates Elder had been drinking.

The second part states the application of an electromuscular disruptive device was a contributory factor -- that disruptive device being the Taser. Virani's conclusion is that Elder's death was accidental.

Excited delirium syndrome has been ruled the cause of death in other cases involving a Taser. Delirium has been mentioned as a possible cause in the death of Robert Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant who died in 2007 after a Taser was used on him in a Vancouver airport.

An exact cause of death was never established, and a public inquiry into the incident is taking place currently in Canada.

As far as the Elder case, David Nickola, who is representing Elder's family, says he would like to see the complete autopsy report before commenting. A civil lawsuit in this case is possible.

The complete investigation is now with the Bay County Prosecutor's office, which will decide if criminal charges will be filed against any of the three Bay City police officers involved.

A decision could come in the next few days.

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