October 20, 2009

Taser Death: Christopher John Belknap (Ukiah CA)

It happened again. This time the police tasered a man three times during a struggle on October 12. The man died. We continue to watch the police kill people with tasers at a rate of more than once per week.

Christopher John Belknap, 36, a transient from Ukiah, died following the confrontation with a Mendocino County Sheriff's sergeant and a sergeant with the Ukiah Police Department. [SOURCE]

The police response to this story is very similiar to what we've seen in 43 other taser-related deaths this year --- demonize the victim. The police want the public to think that these deaths are justified because the victim is a bad person or on drugs.

My response is that being a bad person or on drugs is not a valid excuse for these extra-judicial electrocutions. The death penalty isn't supposed to occur when a person disrespects a police officer.

Lt. Rusty Noe of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office reported that Belknap was released from San Quentin State Prison recently [NOTE: therefore, the victim is a bad person].

Here is what the police say happened:

Belknap attacked a Mendocino County Sheriff's Sergeant as he was parked using his cell phone. While defending himself the sergeant deployed his taser and Belknap was stunned twice before he was able to disengage the taser probes. Noe said Belknap resumed his attack and was punching the sergeant when a Ukiah Police Sergeant arrived to assist.

The Ukiah Police sergeant deployed his taser and Belknap was restrained. Noe said officers were still struggling with Belknap placing him in leg restraints. Belknap became unresponsive and paramedics were called.

Belknap was transported to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. Tests done at the hospital prior to Belknap's death showed positive for the use of methamphetamine.

Belknap had a long history of drug abuse and assault including several incidents of resisting arrest, according to police. In April of 2009 Belknap was contacted by sheriff's deputies and arrested for resisting arrest and breaking out a window in a patrol car. Charges were referred to state parole and he was sent to state prison for six months on a violation.
The investigation is continuing with the Mendocino County District Attorney working with the sheriff's office and Ukiah Police. The cause of death is still pending toxicology testing. Results of an autopsy conducted last week are also pending.

What are your thoughts as you become aware of these continued taser-related deaths?


Unknown said...

I was close friends with this man, and this police report makes it sound like he was a current drug user. He HAD used drugs in the past, but had been clean soon after his original arrest. He was trying to get back on his feet with his wife (who was forced to watch this happen) and ran out of medication. He had an episode and these officers that had arrested him before, or known him before, came to the call to settle some stupid score. That man was kind enough to take me and my boyfriend at the time in off the streets when they had barely anything to spare. You could not find a more loving couple coming from where they did. Anyone who talks bad about this man most defininatley did NOT know him.

Unknown said...

cali5kid - Thank you for sharing your personal insights about Mr. Belknap. I'm very sorry for your loss.

I see that the two officers involved in his taser-related death were cleared of any wrongdoing by the Ukiah police department.

This blog has been tracking taser-related deaths in America since 2009. Mr. Belknap is currently #43 on that list .... a list which reached 110 earlier this week.

Anyhow, I noticed that we don't have Mr. Belknap's race or national origin listed.

Can you help us with that missing information?