January 29, 2010
By JOHN REYNOLDS (firstname.lastname@example.org)
THE STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER
A 50-year-old man who was shot by Sangamon County deputies with a Taser stun gun Saturday died Thursday at Memorial Medical Center.
Patrick Burns of Grandview died at the hospital about 5 p.m.
No information was immediately available on the cause of Burns’ death. An autopsy is scheduled for today, said Sangamon County Coroner Susan Boone.
Richard Burns, Patrick’s brother, said the family doesn’t know why Burns would have wanted to break into someone’s home. “Pat was always willing to lend someone a helping hand,” said Richard Burns during a phone interview from his home in Florida. “I just want to get to the bottom of what happened to my brother.”
Patrick Burns was detained at 6:15 a.m. Saturday, after deputies were called to a suspected residential break-in. When deputies arrived, they found Burns, who was reportedly was wearing only a shirt and underwear.
Sheriff Neil Williamson said Thursday that deputies later learned Burns lived around the corner and that he had been involved in a domestic dispute before the reported break-in.
Deputies said they tried to detain Burns, but he resisted. He was shot several times with a Taser and then subdued. Burns suffered cuts in the alleged break-in and was taken to Memorial for treatment. Once at the hospital, his condition deteriorated.
The Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office called in Illinois State Police last week to review the incident.
Richard Burns said the family is not on a witch hunt, but they do want to know more about how the situation was handled and what caused Patrick’s death. “The state police investigation should uncover what happened from A to B to C,” Richard Burns said. “I have a lot of confidence they are going to do the job fairly and independently. When they review the facts of the case, we will know what happened.”
Williamson said the investigation is ongoing.
“We stand by our deputies, and we stand by the use of the Taser,” Williamson said. “We will await the exact cause of death. We are confident the Taser was not a contributing factor.”
Richard Burns added that he is not happy with the way Boone is handling the case. He said he has friends who are doctors, and they suggested that due to the circumstances of Patrick’s death, a certified forensic pathologist should perform the autopsy.
“Forensics is going to be the key to determining Patrick’s death,” Richard Burns said.
He forwarded the request to Boone’s office, and said she called him back and took an “aggressive” tone and told him that she was going to use another pathologist. Boone said her pathologist has been doing forensic autopsies for 12 years. “She does not have to be board-certified in forensics. She is board-certified in pathology, and has done over 2500 forensic autopsies,” Boone said. “… I explained to him that if he wanted an independent autopsy when I was finished, he was welcome to do that.”
Burns also questioned whether Boone could conduct an unbiased review of the conduct of the sheriff’s office. Boone said her office is “absolutely independent.”
“The coroner’s office is the balance between the medical profession and the legal profession,” she said. “We are the unbiased, neutral person in the middle. I do my own investigation. I don’t have anything to do with Springfield police or the sheriff’s department or state police.”
John Reynolds can be reached at 788-1524.
Patrick Burns, 50
*Allegedly involved in domestic dispute and suspected break-in early Saturday
*Tasered and subdued by Sangamon County sheriff’s deputies
*Taken to Memorial Medical Center for treatment of cuts, but condition deteriorated
*Died about 5 p.m. Thursday at Memorial Medical Center
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Friday, January 29, 2010
January 29, 2010