Man Dies After Taser Is Used by Deputy

By Lori Aratani
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 19, 2007

A 20-year-old man died early yesterday after a Frederick County sheriff's deputy used a Taser stun gun on him in an attempt to break up a fight, the sheriff's office said.

Cpl. Jennifer Bailey, a sheriff's office spokeswoman, said the deputy was the first of several officers who responded to a report of a fight at a party in the 7100 block of Gresham Court East about 5 a.m.

The man struck by the Taser fell to the ground and was taken to Frederick Memorial Hospital, where he died, Bailey said. The chief medical examiner's officer in Baltimore will determine the cause of death, she said.

Bailey said the department was withholding the victim's identity until relatives could be notified. The incident is under investigation, she said, and the deputy has been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure in such cases. She did not release the deputy's name but said he is a 13-year veteran of the department.

She said that other people were taken into custody but that no charges had been filed. The sheriff's office has asked the Frederick Police Department to assist in the investigation, she said.

It is the first incident in the county in which the use of a Taser might have resulted in someone's death, according to Bailey. She said Taser use by the sheriff's office has consistently risen: Stun guns were deployed 12 times in 2005 and 24 times in 2006. Yesterday's incident was the 26th time this year in which a Taser was used by sheriff's deputies, she said.

The devices resemble pistols and can be used to shoot probes into skin or clothing. Although many local law enforcement agencies favor them as a nonlethal alternatives to guns, critics say not enough is known about their safety and effectiveness.

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