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UPDATED: Man who died after being hit with Taser in Spanaway is identified

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Aug. 31, 2010 at 10:26 am with 46 Comments »
August 31, 2010 10:00 pm
Sheriff's deputies set up at the scene in Spanaway/Courtesy of KIRO TV

UPDATE: The Medical Examiner’s Office has identified the 27-year-old man who died this morning after being tased by sheriff’s deputies as King Hoover, of Tacoma.

PREVIOUS POST: A 27-year-old man died this morning after he struggled with Pierce County sheriff’s deputies and they stunned him with a Taser.

The Sheriff’s Department and Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office are now investigating the man’s death because it occurred while he was being taken in custody. The deputies involved in the confrontation were interviewed and placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

The man’s name had not yet been released. The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office planned to conduct an autopsy to see what caused his death and whether there was any drugs or alcohol in his system.

The man had been a guest in an apartment in the 100 block of 170th Street East early today, sheriff’s Sgt. Jerry Bates said. The residents told him the gathering was over and asked the man to leave. He initially refused and a dispute ensued, Bates said.

The residents were eventually able to get the man out of the apartment. He allegedly took a propane tank from a BBQ and threw it through a back window. The man, who was cut on the arm by the glass, broke another window and went back inside the apartment, Bates said.

Deputies were called to the apartment just after 8:30 a.m. Dispatchers could hearing arguing, screaming and crying in the background. Two deputies arrived and found the man hiding behind a couch. The man didn’t follow commands to come out and refused to show his hands to the deputies, Bates said.

“They tried to physically take him into custody,” Bates said.

But the man continued to refuse. The two deputies then deployed a Taser and stunned the man once in the apartment.

“He continued to resist their efforts to handcuff him,” Bates said.

A third deputy arrived at the scene. The three deputies were able to get the man handcuffed as he kicked at them, Bates said. They also tied together his feet.

The deputies called for medical aid just before 9 a.m. because of the Taser application, which is standard procedure, and a cut on the man’s arm. Thirty seconds later, the deputies asked for paramedics to speed up their response because the man wasn’t breathing.

“Shortly after they got him under control, they noticed he was having trouble breathing,” Bates said.

Paramedics took the man to St. Clare Hospital in Lakewood, where he was pronounced dead.

The department’s officer-involved shooting team responded to the scene to investigate because the man’s death occurred in custody.

Law enforcement agencies typically use Tasers, which are considered a non-lethal tool, to subdue combative subjects. The man’s death Tuesday is believed to be the first in-custody death after a Taser application by Pierce County sheriff’s deputies.

“They are used pretty successful,” Bates said. “Once he physically resisted, Taser use would certainly be justified.”

As of April 2005, three men had died in police custody in Washington state after being shocked with at least once with a Taser:

* Stephen L. Edwards, 59, was stunned once by an Olympia police officer Nov. 7, 2002. An autopsy showed he died of a heart attack, coupled with diabetes and obesity.

* Curt L. Rosentangle, 44, was shocked Feb. 21, 2004, during a struggle with Kitsap County sheriff’s deputies. Medical investigators ruled he died from “excited delirium with cardiac arrhythmia due to acute cocaine intoxication.” His wife filed a $2 million claim, accusing county officials of improper use of a Taser.

* Willie Smith, 48, was shocked more than once during a struggle with Auburn police July 13, 2004. An autopsy showed he died of acute cocaine intoxication and physical restraint.

Leave a comment Comments → 46
  1. ollie125 says:

    I believe the technology is sound based upon my training with the device. Health issues of the suspect, unrelated to the taser may be what truly zapped him.

  2. duckfan4ever says:

    The comment by “ImBack” is astonishingly offensive. If it had been the other way around, with the guy who was killed using a weapon and killing a deputy, I doubt this person would have referred to the deputy as “human garbage.” The comment by the person who wants to blame the man’s death on the man’s alleged pre-existing health factors also misses the point. Very simply, the police employed what they assumed would be non-lethal force and, no pun intended, it backfired on them. I hope the deceased man’s family sues the pants off Pierce County, and I hope the cop who killed this man, along with his fellow law enforcement officers, reach out to the deceased man’s family and offer to assist them in just the manner they have come to expect the public to honor police officers who get killed. They should set up a fund for the man’s survivors and pay all funeral expenses at the very least.

  3. duckfan4ever says:

    Apparently, the offensive comment by “Imback” has been removed so as not to offend others! Thanks, TNT.

  4. Sorry ,the guy died.
    but,at least the correct amount of force was used!

  5. wa_govwatch says:

    No, clearly the device is not safe due to the possibility of encountering unknown ‘uncooperative’ health issues, possible drug involvement, and many other unknown issues.

  6. wienerdogsdad says:

    Great idea duckfan4ever. Why don’t you set up a trust fund for criminals who are killed “in the line of duty” while breaking into houses while high on drugs and alcohol? I’m sure that there are lots of people who would want to contribute to that.

  7. Dear reporter.
    Can you get some facts from the police.
    How many tasers are fired, used, per year with success. vs how many uses are fatal?

  8. stetsonwalker says:

    It is like the Viagra commercial says, talk with your doctor before taking to be sure you are healthy enough…apply this to crime and talk to your doctor to see if you are healthy enough to commit crime…

  9. So, Ducky, an officer of the law should help pay for funeral expenses when they apprehend a suspect who dies as a result of resisting arrest? The officer has a right and a duty to protect himself when a suspect puts up a fight. Much of the time, these men and women are high on some substance or drunk. That makes them a lethal threat to the officer. But according to you, that is okay.

  10. tomas472 says:

    Shouldn’t one of the questions be “if the person had NOT been Tasered, would they have died at that time?”

    Regardless of whatever other medical conditions, including prescription or non-prescription drugs in their system, might have acerbated the effects of the Taser, it appears the application of high voltage from the Taser is what caused the death to happen AT THAT TIME.

    If a ‘civilian’ takes a baseball bat to someone, not intending to kill them, but they die, aren’t they still responsible for the death?

    If a ‘civilian’ didn’t intend to kill someone they injure, doesn’t that simply change it from murder to manslaughter? Does it matter if it is a club or a Taser?

    How ’bout a police officer?

    If officers are supposed to be using Tasers IN PLACE OF more lethal means, such as shooting with a firearm, they certainly appear to be overusing their Tasers. Most times they are used, the only other option would NOT have been to shoot the person.

    It is my understanding that Tasers are not intended to be used in place of proper physical control of an individual, but they are intended as a step DOWN from more lethal means that would have been used.

  11. I agree whole heartedly with what duckfan said.

    The interesting thing is, the article as well as the police dept calls the taser a non lethal device.

    Except its proven to be lethal time and time again.

  12. And yes tomas…..tasers are by far being overly used. They are a step down from using a firearm. They shouldn’t be used to control a suspect already in custody.

    I’ve seen it on cops before. Someones already handcuffed and still throwing a fit. But obviously under control and not hurting anyone and they taze the suspect to get him to stop throwing his fit.

  13. BlaineCGarver says:

    Evidently, the dead guy has been living on the moon and doesn’t know to stop what you’re doing when the cops ask you to.

  14. steve_allison says:

    Suing the county is suing me and you . I’m not sure exactly what happened but it seems our police were trying hard to do the right thing on our behalf.

    I have seen tasers used a number of times instead of more inhumane ways of trying to control or subdue people who appeared dangerous , incohernt or way out of control .

    Tasers and other non lethal tools have saved lives of many who are so out of it that they were unpredicatable, dangerous or a threat to themselves and innocent folks nearby . Some times you just can’t talk someone down who is crazy and acting very strangely like the reports describes the irrationale actions of this guy .

    Some people do die when a Taser is applied , often because they were high on big doses of powerful illegal drugs, and /or had medical problems unknown the the officer or perhaps even to themselves . For every death there are thousands and thousands of folks tased who suffer no long term side effects .

    Sometimes these folks just work themselves into a frenzy and die with a high body temp connected to the drugs in their system.

    The deputies appear to have tried everything possible to take the guy into custody and remove him from the people’ s home where he was scaring them . What would you do ? You really don’t know because you were not there. The facts will come out .

  15. Commandtiger says:

    At least Tacoma Police are using the taser while the Seattle Police use a weapon on a person who only had a knife and a piece of wood he was whittleing on????

  16. fivecardstud says:

    Right ollie125, He just had an attack from drugs that just magically happened to be at the same time he was tazed. Why waste the money on using tazers then why not just figure if they’re high on cocaine they’ll die soon and just wait.

  17. Medical conditions? Most likely that household was on some sort of crank, crack or meth fueled all night bender. His heart was probably already in defibrillation when the taser blew out his circuit breaker. You think people would learn to choose better friends. RIP John Belushi, “The Thing that Wouldn’t Leave”, SNL 1976.

  18. I heard of deaths from tasers on the other side of the planet. Quite a
    few of them. The police are into technological toys just like the rest of

  19. I am sorry that the perso who was tased passed.

    But I am very happy that the officers are okay.
    But I am sure that they are feeling pretty bad about the death of this person.

  20. cyberres says:

    The issue is this: When a cop says “Stop,” you stop. If he says, “Put your hands behind your back,” you do so. If you fight, expect the cops to fight back. How much common sense do you have to have to avoid this kind of situation? Not much.

  21. emopoops says:

    this is odd.

  22. So duckfan4ever: You are willing to sue yourself because someone who is committing a criminal act is harmed or killed. That’s what exactly what you are doing when you make a statement for someone to sue the county and police dept.
    Fighting and resisting arrest after being told to stop will always lead to someone getting hurt or sometimes killed. I’m sure the police had no intention to harm the suspect. But, if he is breaking the law, and threatening the safety of others, then he is putting his own life and others in jeopardy.
    One does not ‘Honor’ a criminal. And stating that this person who was acting in a dangerous and negligent manner should be honored, shows that you need to rethink your concept of honor and values towards others, especially officers of the law.

  23. duckfan4ever says:

    In one of the comments above, BlaineCGarver wrote, “Evidently, the dead guy has been living on the moon and doesn’t know to stop what you’re doing when the cops ask you to.” My questions for BlaineCGarver are these: Since when do we live in a police state in which civilians have a duty or obligation to stop doing something just because a cop asks us or tells us to? Where are you and others with similar views coming up with the notion that the police have the legal or constitutional authority to dictate to civilians what to do, unless our conduct is obviously unlawful? I refuse to cede my fundamental freedoms to government agents carrying guns (and tasers) and wearing badges, and going around trying to act like they have the power to tell people what to do, how to do it, or when to do it. A police officer who tries to give me “an order” will be politely but firmly reminded that, as I am neither a soldier nor a child, such “an order” should be directed to someone else.

  24. cops need to get a different toy to amuse themselves with. Watch cops, they get all giddy and can’t wait to taze somebody

  25. DAKOTANATIVE says:

    When are you required to follow the orders of the police? When you want to live maybe. There was no concern for anyone’s safety when the potentially lethal had cylinder was flying through the window. Only the criminals and duck fans hate laws.

  26. lovethemountains says:

    Where did you witness the “all giddy” reaction on the part of the police mdw47?

  27. SkeleTony says:

    Let’s not jump to the anti-cop conspiracy theories and what not people…just this once let’s not be stupid and irrational. I do not care on iota if the guy had died from cutting his arm on the broken glass from the window he shattered or from the Taser application. It is sad that he died at all but the point is that if you behave like a dumb-ass and you die because of your own behavior, you cannot blame the glass, the cops, the taser, the weather etc.

  28. BlaineCGarver says:

    DuckFan…with all due respect, and I really mean that, it’s your decision and choice. As a free man, I detest the JBTs that try to lord it over us just because they can, but I also recognize that if I am holding a weapon that the cop sees as a threat, I’m going to go very docile very quickly. The exception to this is if a group of ANYbody busts violently into my house, I will prolly shoot first and ask questions, if I am alive, later. These violent intrusions into homes is not constitutional police business.

  29. Since 2001 351 people have died from tasers!

  30. WTF — that does sound really bad. Is that here in the US or worldwide, and out of how many uses is that? Are we talking like 10% of people who are tased drop dead for no reason, or .0000001% die, and most of those were jacked up on something?

    I sure don’t want to be tased so I guess I won’t throw my propane tank through my neighbor’s window and then fight the cops.

  31. mdawg210 never had an original thought in it’s life.

  32. mdawg2110 says:


    Pierce County Sheriff’s Department’s use of force continuum

    Officer’s presence
    Verbal commands
    Soft empty hands/ Taser/Pepper Spray
    Hard Empty hands (closed fist)
    Impact Weapons (Baton)
    Deadly Force

    These Deputies used the lowest force possible and people are complaining about them.

  33. mdawg2110 says:


    “mdawg210 never had an original thought in it’s life.”

    What planet are you from? I am from the land where you obey the laws and those who enforce them. I come from the land of common sense where if someone told me to leave their home I do and not refuse and break their property. I would like to know what drug you are on that is clouding your thinking.

  34. jackbauer says:

    My condolences to the family of the deceased. It has got to be a tough day for them.

    However, the concept seems pretty straight-forward to me. Don’t throw propane tanks through people’s windows…leave when people tell you to. Consume alcohol in moderation so as not to cloud your judgment and most importantly, do what the people holding the weapon tell you to do…and voila…you’d have no story here. Instead, another person’s blatant disregard for authority ends up causing his/her own death. Taser or not, if you value your life, do what the police tell you to. It’s a concept as old as our nation’s history.

  35. Too bad they didnt tase and get rid of the whole group involved.

  36. Since 2001 351 people have resisted arrest and subsequently died.

    AGAIN I tell you people: Don’t fight with the police! If you do, expect to be injured and possibly killed.

  37. he stopped resisting…….so they tased him for a cops movie that was
    being filmed by the movie crew that was there….sounds like legal
    murder to me.

  38. Oh Ya. Seattle’s got em beat by blasting a guy 4 times, that was whitling
    a wood project with a 3 inch knife. An old street person who a young
    cop could have pushed over. And now what the heck happened in
    Federal Way……..

    watch out, cops are in kill mode.

  39. DeptOfRevenue says:

    Well, my first comment about Tasers should only be used on a certain group of people was removed…but anyway, maybe we should go back to the good ol’ days and used a water cannon on them instead.

  40. Tasers are considered “less-lethal weapons” not as follows:

    “which are considered a non-lethal tool, to subdue combative subjects. “

  41. According to Taser Facts, LA Times – 2007, the odds of “Death by Taser” are approximately 600,000:1. So taser the entire population of Seattle and one person might die (sarcastic humor for perspective only). Tasers are nasty, painfully bad weapons (trust me). Law enforcement training requires officers to experience the taser (they supposedly still do). Nobody wants to get tased and it is a tragedy when someone dies, whether it’s a good guy or bad guy.

  42. everythingalaska says:

    CrazyLibertarian , you have no idea what your talking about. YOU do not know the PCSO use of force continuum. Get your facts straight before you make comments. YOU are giving false information.

  43. angileyz says:

    Why didn’t this guy simply comply with officers commands? LINX shows he had a lengty history of “meeting up” with the police, so he was well aware of all the what happens next routine. I wonder what else may have been in his system? bet whatever was in his system has a lot to do with what happened.

  44. reaper14all says:

    When I was in the miliutary been around the world 3 times been to many countries and it’s no wonder why criminals like it here. Almost all the countries I’ve been to if you come accross. Showing no respect I have personaly seen they don’t have steps they go for batons and whack you to submission. Some countries even go beyond that when asked politely and they get no responce they just up and shoot you. Problem solved! Thaqt’s why I laugh when I see people saying I won’t obey the police (establishment) orders because I’m a free individual and I can do what I want. Those that say that appearently read (or haven’t read,) the Constitutuion. So as not to get to technical for those of you it says you have the right to do want you want as long as it doesn’t interfer with othres rights. So, if you disreguard the rights of someone’s safety, life, peace of mind then you should be eady to except what will come to you with out any reservation. Meaning, don’t whine! Take responsibility for your actions, you give and give then get ready to be taken, you choice, the easy way or the hard way. Plain and simple.

  45. It’s sad there’s very few places or help for individuals who don’t have their life in order. And by the looks of it, more & more people will be in need of help. We see a permanant solution by death here, but it’s going to take a better understanding and a lot of thought to what we are going to be facing and do when there’s more people out of work, on drugs, homeless, unable. I hope that everyone can find goodness in their hearts know this was not a laughing matter. People aren’t garbage. The more we ignore people that seem hopeless or out of control the less we value ourselves and our country.

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