SPANAWAY, Wash. - Pierce County sheriff's detectives are investigating whether drugs or alcohol played a role in the death of a man who stopped breathing after deputies stunned him with a Taser.
Pierce County Det. Sgt. Jerry Bates says the 27-year-old man was a guest at an apartment in the 100 block of 170th St. SW. He was asked to leave but refused.
The tenants called 911 when the man went into the back yard and picked up a propane tank from a barbecue and tossed it through a window to get inside.
When deputies arrived they found the suspect hiding behind a couch, refusing to show his hands. They attempted to physically remove him and that didn't work.
"They attempted to physically take him into custody. They did put hands on him and he pulled away from them and that's common use of taser. We don't get into fistfights with people, we're allowed to escalate the use of force once those efforts are overcome," said Bates.
Even after he was shocked it took three deputies to handcuff the man.
Paramedics were called after he was handcuffed and tasered because it's a routine procedure. Before paramedics arrived the man quit breathing.
The man was not armed.
A man who says his cousin lives in the apartment said the man who died had been playing dominoes and was asked to leave after making too much noise.
“My cousin was sleeping,” said Drake Granberry, II, “He told the guy, ‘You all got to shut it down you all gotta leave.’ The guy didn’t like that.”
Those who knew the man did not know why the man was so upset.
“He just got out of control, trying to fight anybody in the house,” said Granberry.
Granberry said he felt police, “Did what they had to do at the time.”
An upstairs neighbor said he did not blame police for tasing the man.
“I did hear them say, ‘Stop resisting’ twice,’ said Rick Salcido.
“They did what they could do,” said Salcido.
The man’s identity has not been released. An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
The deputies involved have been placed on routine leave.