July 26, 2010

Taser Autopsy: Death of 17-Year Old William Owens Ruled a 'Homicide'

A 17-year old African American child died after being electrocuted mulitple times by the taser gun of an unidentified white Homewood (AL) police officer. The Jefferson County Coroner's Office ruled that the taser was part of the reason that the young man died.

Chief Deputy Coroner Pat Curry classified the cause of death as "sequelae of confrontation of Taser use." The manner of death is classified as a homicide. [SOURCE]

The pre-existing condition, combined with the stress of the events including the 50,000 volts of electricity from the taser gun, all worked together to end in his death. Absent one link in the chain events, whether that be the struggle with police, the taser gun or the heart condition, Owens may or may not have died, Curry said

"The totality of the circumstance killed him," Curry said.
Owens died June 14. He was struck by a Homewood police officer's Taser after lawmen caught him and three of his cousins, including a 12-year-old, allegedly breaking into cars at Herzing University just before 1 a.m. Police said Owens was struck with the taser after the teen repeatedly resisted arrest. [NOTE: I'm fairly certain that there is no death penalty for 'repeatedly resisting arrest'.]

The case is under investigation by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, the Homewood Police and the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office.

District Attorney Brandon Falls said he wanted to withhold comment until completion of the investigation.

The Homewood Police Department released this statement:
"The findings from the coroner's office are consistent with any death where the actions of one person cause the death of another. This ruling is consistent whether the actions of the remaining person(s) are direct or indirect. This finding does not reflect any misconduct on the part of Homewood officers responding to the scene. Officers on the scene acted reasonably and quickly to the circumstances surrounding this incident."
The next step in this process is to see what the District Attorney does. Not all homicides lead to criminal prosecution. Will the unidentifed police officer be charged with a crime? Or will this young man's life end without any legal recourse against the person that electrocuted him without a trial?

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