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Friday, June 04, 2010

Man dies after shock from police Taser - Wife not told of death for four days

May 29, 2010 - Jose Martinez, 53, Waukegan, Illinois

June 4, 2010
By JUDY MASTERSON, Lake County News Sun

Details remain sketchy on the circumstances surrounding the death of a Waukegan man who was tasered by police on Saturday.

Jose Martinez, 53, of the 800 block of Grand Avenue, was shocked into submission by a Waukegan police officer about 8 p.m. outside of Dave's Liquors, 2300 Grand Ave., and reportedly suffered cardiac arrest. Lake County Coroner Dr. Richard Keller said Martinez was taken to Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan, where he was pronounced dead.

"He did have a heart condition, demonstrated on autopsy," Keller said. "We listed cause of death as heart condition and tasering as a contributing factor to his death."

Waukegan Police Chief Artis Yancey said the death is under investigation by the Lake County Major Crime Task Force and declined to elaborate. "There was a situation, and it's still under investigation," Yancey said. "I don't want to cloud the investigation."

The Martinez family is questioning why Sue Martinez, the wife of the victim, was not notified of her husband's death until Wednesday. Son Robert Martinez said it was not unusual for his dad to spend time in Chicago, where he was assumed to be.

Rick Martinez, the victim's brother, a U.S. Army helicopter pilot who lives outside of Atlanta, Ga., said Jose might have been misidentified by police, who were called to the store on a complaint of a disturbance by someone who was panhandling.

On Thursday, a clerk at Dave's Liquors said that police had been called over a panhandling incident. Store owner Hitesh Patel declined to contact the Lake County News-Sun.

Armando Martinez, 58, of Waukegan, another brother of the victim and a former Waukegan police officer, said the woman who was clerking Saturday night told the family that it was a different man who was causing problems at the store. He said he heard that police chased Martinez in the parking lot, stopped him with a Taser, then couldn't revive him.

"I was devastated," said Martinez, who left the police force after he was stabbed breaking up a bar room fight about 20 years ago.

"Until the task force releases its report, we won't know -- was use of a Taser justified. We will find out what happened, then we'll see what action the family wants to take," Martinez said.

Jose Martinez, the father of three grown sons, was over 6 feet tall and weighed about 250 pounds. A graduate of Waukegan High School, he served in the Marine Corps from 1975 to 1977.

Armando Martinez said his brother struggled with addiction issues upon returning from military duty and had some minor run-ins with the police.

"We just want the truth," Rick Martinez said.

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