Man dies after run-in with Arlington police; Taser was used

By Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A 36-year-old District man died Sunday night after struggling with Arlington County police officers who used a Taser in an attempt to subdue him, authorities said.

Arlington police said William R. Bumbrey III, who was suspected of stealing from a pharmacy, was on the platform at the Pentagon City Metro station when an officer approached him. Police said the officer used his Taser, which administers an electric jolt and is designed to be safer than a firearm, after Bumbrey became aggressive and refused to respond to spoken orders.

Police said it is unclear whether the Taser's probes struck Bumbrey, who then struggled with the officer and a second one who arrived to assist. Bumbrey later died. Police did not identify the two officers but said they were placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of an investigation, as is routine.

Detective Crystal Nosal, a police spokeswoman, said it is the first time a death has occurred in Arlington after an incident involving police use of a Taser. The devices have been in the department's arsenal since 2004, and police said they use them, on average, fewer than 20 times each year.

Nosal said the incident began about 8 p.m. Sunday, when officers were searching for a man after reports of a theft from a pharmacy. She said Bumbrey matched the thief's description and was carrying items similar to those that had been reported stolen.

Nosal said Bumbrey was "very aggressive," didn't respond to spoken commands and physically assaulted the officer who approached him. The officer deployed his Taser, Nosal said, but Bumbrey was not incapacitated.

"He was still struggling," Nosal said. She said that because Bumbrey apparently did not react to the Taser shot, police question whether the Taser made contact with him.

A second officer who went to the scene helped restrain and handcuff Bumbrey, Nosal said. She said that it is routine to call for medics when a Taser is deployed and that the officers did so. The officers soon realized that Bumbrey was in serious medical distress.

Bumbrey was pronounced dead at a hospital, Nosal said. She said that the medical examiner's office will seek to determine a cause of death and that police have asked it to conclude whether the Taser's probes struck Bumbrey.

Bumbrey's family could not immediately be reached to comment.

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