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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"The cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia that was induced by the electrical tasing device (TASER)

July 27, 2010
by Aimee Robinette, The Bolivar Commercial

As of noon, the Cleveland Police Department has yet to release information about three officers involved in the suspicious death of 30-year-old Jermaine Williams on July 23.

While what occurred during the incident is still being investigated by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations, it appears Williams received two TASER deployments, one to his front and the other to his back, according to Bolivar County Coroner Dr. Nathaniel Brown.

A press release issued by the police department noted that after his arrest Williams was lethargic and an ambulance was called.

On Saturday, Bolivar County Deputy Coroner J.O. Trice said he considered the death of Williams a homicide and attributed it solely to the TASER.

“The cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia that was induced by the electrical tasing device (TASER),” he said on Saturday. “The young man was quite healthy for a 30-year-old fellow.

“Most of it is still pending,” he said. “We’re just waiting on the results from the toxicology but it has not changed my opinion about the cause of death. The toxicology report may take a month or so before we get all the results back.”

Brown said this morning the manner and cause of death are pending the official toxicology report but added that an illegal substance was found in Williams’ system.

“There was cocaine and alcohol found in Mr. Williams’ system,” Brown said. “That must be considered.”

In the preliminary autopsy report from the State Crime Lab, Williams had alcohol in his blood as well as cocaine in his urine.

“The blood/cocaine level is still pending,” Brown said. “Cocaine can cause heart arrhythmia and death by itself. The cocaine coupled with an electrical shock ... that combination could have caused his death.”

Regardless, Williams’ death could still fall under accidental or justifiable homicide, according to Brown who said that was just his opinion as he is not an attorney.

The Cleveland Police Department recently started using TASERs as a way to subdue resistive and combative individuals. The department underwent training as well as having to be on the receiving end of a TASER before they were allowed to use them on the street.

The TASER X26 Electronic Control Device (ECD) is what the department utilizes. It uses a replaceable cartridge containing compressed nitrogen to deploy two small probes that are attached to the TASER X26 by insulated conductive wires with a maximum length of 35 feet, according to product information. The TASER X26 transmits electrical pulses through the wires and into the body affecting the sensory and motor functions of the peripheral nervous system. The energy can penetrate up to two cumulative inches of clothing, or one inch per probe.

Each TASER has a recording device built in that cannot be tampered with.

These and other factors are being investigated by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations.

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