Taser Deaths: Coincidence, Contributor, Or Cause?

Taser Deaths

Forty-eight people have died so far this year after being shot with Tasers. Many of these incidents began as minor, somewhat routine police calls, but quickly escalated to very dangerous situations. Officers have mere seconds to react in these situtions, if that long, and the wrong decision can have devastating consequences for everyone involved. Sometimes making the right decision doesn’t work out very well, either.

Matthew Bolick, pictured above, is the latest person to die after experiencing the 50,000 volts of a police officer’s Taser. Bolick’s father called police asking for help with his thirty-year-old son who had been acting strangely. When police arrived, Bolick assaulted one of the officers on the front lawn. The officer deployed his Taser, but it had no effect on Bolick who then ran inside the home. Officers followed the suspect inside and again deployed their Tasers several more times. Bolick died at the scene.

Many of the the other forty-seven deaths began with something as simple as a playing music too loudly. See for yourself…

1. Jan 9, 2009: Derrick Jones, 17

Martinsville, Virginia

Initial complaint – Police were called to Jones’ home because of a loud noise complaint from neighbors. Jones died in his home after being shot with a police Taser.

2. Jan 11, 2009: Rodolfo Lepe, 31

Bakersfield, California

Initial complaint – Family members called police because Rodolfo was exhibiting odd and bizarre behavior. Lepe died at the hospital after being shot with a police Taser.

3. Jan 22, 2009: Roger Redden, 52

Soddy Daisy, Tennessee

Initial complaint – unknown

4. Feb 2, 2009: Garrett Jones, 45

Stockton, California

Initial complaint – unknown

5. Feb 11, 2009: Richard Lua, 28

San Jose, California

Initial complaint – unknown

6. Feb 13, 2009: Rudolph Byrd, 37

Thomasville, Georgia

Initial complaint – Byrd had been in an auto accident and was disoriented. He was also bleeding from several lacerations. The responding police officer found cocaine at the scene and attempted to arrest Byrd, who then became combative. The officer deployed his Taser, attempting to stop the threat. Byrd stopped breathing and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

7. Feb 13, 2009: Michael Jones, 43

Iberia, Louisiana


8. Feb 14, 2009: Chenard Kierre Winfield, 32

Los Angeles, California


9. Feb 28, 2009: Robert Lee Welch, 40

Conroe, Texas


10. Mar 22, 2009: Brett Elder, 15

Bay City, Michigan


11. Mar 26, 2009: Marcus D. Moore, 40

Freeport, Illinois

Moore, a wanted fugitive, fought with police when they attempted to apprehend him. Officers deployed their Tasers to help effect the arrest and Moore soon began to complain of shortness of breath. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

12. Apr 1, 2009: John J. Meier Jr., 48

Tamarac, Florida


13. Apr 6, 2009: Ricardo Varela, 41

Fresno, California


14. Apr 10, 2009: Robert Mitchell, 16

Detroit, Michigan

Mitchell, who weighed 110 pounds and stood 5’2″ tall at the time of arrest, was in custody and undergoing a pat down search by police when a struggle began. The officer deployed his Taser and the boy died. Autopsy results revealed the boy had a heart condition that, when aggravated by the Taser blast, caused the death.

15. Apr 13, 2009: Craig Prescott, 38

Modesto, California

Prescott, a jail inmate, struggled with deputies who deployed Tasers. The coroner ruled that it was the physical exertion from the struggle that killed Prescott, not the Taser.

16. Apr 16, 2009: Gary A. Decker,

Tuscon, Arizona

Initial complaint – loud noise

17. Apr 18, 2009: Michael Jacobs Jr., 24

Fort Worth, Texas

Initial complaint – Parents called police to assist with controlling their mentally impaired son.

18. Apr 30, 2009: Kevin LaDay, 35

Lumberton, Texas

Initial complaint – DUI traffic stop. LaDay ran and was shot with a Taser.

19. May 4, 2009: Gilbert Tafoya, 53

Holbrook, Arizona


20. May 17, 2009: Jamaal Valentine, 27

La Marque, Texas

Police found Valentine rolling in a ditch. They deployed their Tasers and the subject died. Autopsy revealed a controlled substance in Valentine’s system.

21. May 23, 2009: Gregory Rold, 37

Salem, Oregon

Initial complaint – trespassing.

22. Jun 9, 2009: Brian Cardall, 32

Hurricane, Utah

Cardell’s wife called 911 asking for help with her husband who was experiencing a psychotic episode. Cardell was being treated and medicated for his condition. Here’s the wife’s 911 call.

This is actual police audio from the scene. It begins with the officer saying, “I’m 23…” That’s short for 10-23, meaning he has arrived on the scene. Listen as he fires his Taser at the man who is clearly distraught. Then you’ll hear the officers begin to notice that the man is not breathing and has no pulse.

23. Jun 13, 2009: Dwight Madison, 48

Bel Air, Maryland

Initial complaint – Homeless man knocking on doors looking for a friend.

24. Jun 20, 2009 Derrek Kairney, 36

South Windsor, Connecticut


25. Jun 30, 2009, Shawn Iinuma, 37

Fontana, California


26. Jul 2, 2009, Rory McKenzie, 25

Bakersfield, California


27. Jul 20, 2009, Charles Anthony Torrence, 35

Simi Valley, California


28. Jul 30, 2009, Johnathan Michael Nelson, 27

Riverside County, California


29. Aug 9, 2009, Terrace Clifton Smith, 52

Moreno Valley, California


30. Aug 12, 2009, Ernest Ridlehuber, 53

Greenville, South Carolina

Initial complaint – Ridlehuber’s family reported him as a missing person.

31. Aug 14, 2009, Hakim Jackson, 31

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


32. Aug 18, 2009, Ronald Eugene Cobbs, 38

Greensboro, North Carolina

Scuffle with deputies inside the local jail.

33. Aug 20, 2009, Francisco Sesate, 36

Mesa, Arizona


34. Aug 22, 2009, T.J. Nance, 37

Arizona City, Arizona


35. Aug 26, 2009, Miguel Molina, 27

Los Angeles, California


36. Aug 27, 2009, Manuel Dante Dent, 27

Modesto, California

Dent swallowed a bag of methamphetamine to prevent police officers from retrieving it as evidence. An officer then placed a Taser in direct contact with Dent’s skin and fired. Dent died hours later, but autopsy results indicated that the meth he’d ingested was the cause of death, not the Taser blast.

37. Sep 3, 2009, Shane Ledbetter, 38

Aurora, Colorado

38. Sep 16, 2009, Alton Warren Ham, 45

Modesto, California

Initial complaint – Home invasion/robbery. Ham became combative with jailers so they used a Taser to get him under control. He died immediately after being shot. Autopsy results indicated that Ham had an enlarged heart.

39. Sep 19, 2009, Yuceff W. Young II, 21

Brooklyn, Ohio


40. Sep 21, 2009, Richard Battistata, 44

Laredo, Texas

Initial complaint – Burglary in progress. Battistata was confronted by police as a burglary suspect. The officer deployed her Taser and the suspect died on the scene. Autopsy results indicated that the suspect died as a result of a cocaine overdose.

41. Sep 28, 2009, Derrick Humbert, 38

Bradenton, Florida

Initial complaint – Officer stopped Humbert for riding a bicycle after dark without a headlight.

42. Oct 2, 2009, Rickey Massey, 38

Panama City, Florida

Initial complaint – Possession of cocaine

43. Oct 12, 2009, Christopher John Belknap, 36

Ukiah, California


44. Oct 16, 2009, Frank Cleo Sutphin, 19

San Bernadino, California

Initial complaint – Fight call

45. Oct 27, 2009, Jeffrey Woodward, 33

Gallatin, Tennessee


46. Nov 13, 2009, Herman George Knabe, 58

Corpus Christi, Texas

Initial complaint – Man riding a bicycle against the flow of traffic.

47. Nov 14, 2009, Darryl Bain, 43

Coram, New York

Initial Complaint – Bain’s brother called police asking for help because Bain was high on cocaine.

48. Nov 16, 2009, Matthew Bolick, 30

East Grand Rapids, Michigan

Initial complaint – Bolick’s father called police because he was concerned about his son’s odd behavior.

Bolick family home

*List and images compiled by Eletronic Village.

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Castle News – Alyssa Milano has been cast to play the part of Castle’s ex-lover. Me thinks an even newer character will follow in the “Charmed One’s” footsteps – the Green-eyed Monster. Beckett’s not going to like this…not at all.

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7 replies
  1. Thirteenburn
    Thirteenburn says:

    Well, let’s see…what do ALL of these people have in common? Oh right, right…THEY’RE F-ING CRIMINALS WHO SHOULD HAVE OBEYED ALL LEO COMMANDS.

    Duh!! Some people are SO stupid.

  2. Marilyn Prescott
    Marilyn Prescott says:

    My son, Craig Prescott died on April 13, 2009 when he was taken off the ventilator by the Sheriff of Stanislaus County after all charges had been dismissed. Not only was excessive and brutal force used, but it was as if the Sheriff had to finish him off. Craig was in jail for the first time in his life as an inmate. Ironically, he had worked in the jail as a custodial deputy for more than nine years. Craig was suffering from mental illness so my family had him arrested for the main purpose of forcing him to get the help he needed. We thought he would be safe from ridicule, taunting, physical abuse, and dying on the streets by having him locked up until Tuesday, April 14 when the DA was going to recommend to the judge that he be sentenced for violating his restraining order to, Atascadero, a mental facility in Southern CA. We thought our carefully orchestrated plan was going to help him. Little did we realize that the plan was altered by eight deliberately indifferent deputies who caused our plan to become a death sentence. Craig was the husband of a lovely wife and six young daughters. He is my third son and I miss him terribly. I would have died for my son, but never would I have believed this could have happened to him.

  3. misty rainwater
    misty rainwater says:

    I was wrongfully tazed in Salem, Oregon. I easily could have died. Tazing should not be legal.

  4. Elena
    Elena says:

    This is really getting out of hand. As Ange pointed out there are too many variables. Would those whose death was assigned to drugs have died if they had not been tasered?

    I am very unlikely to survive a taser hit, and hopefully no one will ever think I need one. In fact if the EMT’s working the ambulance I was in had tried to resuscitate me with the electronic paddles I would have died. Fortunately they didn’t have them so it wasn’t an option. Another area where ‘they’ are starting to figure out that women cannot handle the load they set it at which is for good size men.

    And what about the cops who taser someone who dies? Do they get the support they would get if it had been a bullet? I seriously doubt that PTSD makes any distinction.

  5. Ange
    Ange says:

    I think there are just too many variables here. Docs can barely handle how current drugs perform for different people (a newly released study shows something us ladies have known for years: drugs affect women differently than men. Quick, inform the medical community!), so how will voltage affect different people? I recall the Taser video of the naked guy on drugs who had to be tasered four times before he finally fell, and here’s an anecdote about someone tasered once & they die.

    There’s just no way to know.

    (BTW, I was tasered once, voluntarily as part of the Sheriff’s Office Citizen’s Academy. It is NOT a pleasant feeling.)

  6. Margaret
    Margaret says:

    Was there any drug testing performed on the ‘unknown’s’? I’m curious because some of these documented complaints had some form of drugs or psychotic episodes involved, which might play a part in the Taser shock jolting the brain waves into some sort of spasm. Too bad you can’t perform an MRI on people when they are being Tazered, with and without various substances in their bodies.
    Has anyone done a study? Yeah, I know money is tight, but sometimes curiousity might make a ME curious enough to do a little investigating and documenting.
    Hm . . . this could make for some interesting Whodunits.

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