A 27-year-old man died Tuesday after he broke two windows of a Spanaway apartment, struggled with Pierce County sheriff's deputies and was stunned with a Taser.
The Sheriff’s Department and Prosecutor’s Office were investigating the death because the man died while being taken into custody. The three deputies involved in the confrontation were interviewed and placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure.
The man’s name was not released. The Medical Examiner’s Office planned to do an autopsy to determine what caused the death and whether drugs or alcohol were in the man’s system.
According to sheriff’s detective Sgt. Jerry Bates, the man had been asked to leave a gathering at an apartment in the 100 block of 170th Street East early Tuesday. He refused and an argument broke out.
The residents got the man out of the apartment, but the man threw a propane tank from a barbecue through a back window, broke another window and got back inside.
Two deputies tried to take the man into custody, but he to refused to cooperate. One of the deputies stunned the man with the Taser, but the struggle continued. A third deputy arrived and the three were able to handcuff the man and tie his feet together.
Following standard procedure, the deputies called for medical aid just before 9 a.m. because the Taser had been used and because the man had a cut on his arm. Thirty seconds later, the deputies asked for paramedics to speed their response because the man wasn’t breathing.
Paramedics took the man to St. Clare Hospital in Lakewood, where he was pronounced dead.
Several South Sound law enforcement agencies use Tasers as a less-lethal option for subduing people who resist arrest. The electric stun gun delivers a 50,000-volt, five-second charge that temporarily paralyzes a person’s muscles.
As part of its investigation into the man’s death, the Sheriff’s Department will review the deputy’s use of a Taser to determine whether it was an appropriate use of force.