April 5, 2010

Taser Autopsy: Delano Smith (Elkhart, IN)

Elkhart Police Department Cpl. Norm Friend, Officer Bruce Anglemyer, Sgt. James Buchmann, and Officer Michael Price shot 22-year old Delano Smith three times with a taser back in January. The Elkhart, Indiana man died while in their police custody and police tasers contributed to the death.

That was the conclusion of an investigation conducted by the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office that found no wrongdoing on the part of police officers. [SOURCE]

Elkhart City Police were called to Smith’s apartment on January 6th of this year by neighbors who heard screaming and other loud noises.

Once there, officers observed some very bizarre behavior. Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill said that Smith had a large wound on his arm and that Smith was biting the wound with his teeth. The investigation further alleges that Smith was dousing his head in a kitchen sink full of water and what appeared to be blood.

Finally, some appliances near the sink appeared to be damaged with exposed electrical wiring. Smith wrapped his mouth around the exposed wires, despite the officer’s requests to stop.

While it’s very unfortunate that this apparently troubled young man is dead, and while the actions of the officers may have inadvertently contributed to his death,” said Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill, “The actions taken by police officers to subdue Mr. Smith were reasonable, appropriate, and necessary to prevent his further harm."
An autopsy concluded that the confrontation with police and the restraint that officers used were contributing factors in Smith’s death.

This was certainly a circumstance that we wanted to take a look at because we have an individual who died while in police custody and following a confrontation with police where the police had engaged in the use of force, albeit one that is clearly intended to be non-lethal,” said Prosecutor Hill.
Villagers, it appears that this was a mentally-ill man who needed help. He didn't need to be electrocuted by invading police officers. The man was not an immediate threat to the police officers. He needed to be hospitalized ... not killed. The police officers appear to have been much too quick to pull their taser guns. Weren't other options available to them?

Again we see that the 'powers that be' are not interested in holding the police accountable for their actions. Unintentionial killings usually result in a manslaughter charge ... however, the usual rules don't apply in Elkhart. The four taser-killing cops go free and Delano Smith's life is deemed irrelevant.


Gunfighter said...

The police were called... they weren't "invading". Their use of force wasn't inappropriate.

If we want to help the mentally ill, perhaps someone should call a mental hospital, instead of the police.

Villager said...

Gunfighter - I think that you and I can agree on this one ... 'if you want to help the mentally ill, perhaps someone should call a mental hospital.."! :)

Beth said...

I think when a person regardless of mental state is taking such measures of endangering themselves as well as people around them, calling the police is first~ Should they KNOW or make the call of mental instabilities~ THEN the police in charge of controlling the situation should make the call~ this clearly wasn't a situation to wait it out nor contact anyone except trained officers whom had NO intentions of killing a man~ but to bring him to state to then evaluate the situation. Yes it's unfortunate for him and his families loss~ by the report maybe his family and friends should not have left him alone~ he sounds as though he needed treatment throughout and constant~ which is an opinion~ BUT I am leaving this as a statement saying that procedure seems to be right on target! Out of control man~ call police~ police control and follow procedure. Sorry for the loss~ Thankful for law enforcers whom do their job as required. God bless all~ even the officers who suffer from this loss~ NEVER an easy job making this type of decision such as clocking in and sweeping the floor.

Villager said...

Beth - There is something seriously wrong with a process that results in the death of a man when he is seeking health-related help (mental or physical).

The bottomline is that this man (Delano Smith) is dead ... and it didn't need to happen if the police used some SOP other than electrocute first with taser guns.