August 15, 2009

Taser Death: Rory McKenzie (Bakersfield, CA)

I missed this taser-related death when it occurred on July 2, 2009. It turns out that a woman, Latoya McKenzie, 20, flagged down patrol deputies just after midnight claiming her husband assaulted her. She said her husband, 25-year-old Rory McKenzie, had broken out a car window with a baseball bat while she was sitting in the car.

Deputies went to an apartment in east Bakersfield and used a Taser and sheriff's dog when Rory McKenzie resisted arrest, according to a sheriff's office news release. Deputies noticed he had stopped breathing and took him to Kern Medical Center, where he died.

Another Black man dead from taser-wielding police officers. When will an investigation take place on a national scale?

Witnesses indicate that the young man did not resist arrest and that it was unneccessary for the six officers on the scene to use the taser on the unarmed man. After all, nowhere in America is the death penalty appropriate for a simple assault case.

Latoya McKenzie said she wasn't home when her husband was arrested, but she said her three children were there. She criticized deputies for their handling of the situation.

"There's about six, seven police officers and just him," Latoya McKenzie said, "and a canine dog, but they felt so threatened that they had to Taser him with two rows, or whatever."

The incident is under investigation, but Sr. Deputy Michael Whorf said deputies are allowed to use one higher level of force that a suspect is using in order to subdue to suspect.

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