October 16, 2010

Taser Lawsuit: Ronald Eugene Cobbs (Greensboro, NC)

This blog shared information about the taser-related death of 38-year old Ronald Cobbs last year in Greensboro, NC. Cobbs had been in jail for over a year when the folks in the Guilford County jail electrocuted him twice with a taser.

We learned from CorrectionsOne.com that Cobbs' wife, Tricolia, filed a lawsuit Guilford County Superior Court accusing the sheriff, Guilford County Sheriff's Office and Prison Health Services of negligence in the Aug. 19, 2009, death of her husband. The family is seeking triple damages under the state's Wrongful Death Act.

The family accuses the defendants of using excessive force and having insufficient medical tools or training to handle a patient who has been hit with a 50,000-volt Taser.
"You shouldn't die if you are waiting in jail on charges. It shouldn't be a death sentence," Steve Bowden, the attorney representing the family, said.
Sheriff BJ Barnes said separate investigations had cleared his deputies of any wrongdoing.

In July, the district attorney announced that the officers acted appropriately and without excessive force, and provided appropriate medical attention.

An autopsy did not determine a cause of death. Cobb could have died of respiratory arrest or cardiac arrhythmia caused by an underlying cardiac disease, both triggered by the stress of the struggle, according to the report.

The state's chief medical examiner did include in the report that he believes restraints played a role in the death. Cobbs had been handcuffed and shackled at the ankles.

Cobbs had been in jail for about a year, his family said. He was awaiting trial on charges of kidnapping, robbery with a dangerous weapon and a probation violation.

4 comments:

Reggie said...

For whatever reason the invention of the taser has given police around the world an excuse to electrocute people casually. I'd love to see breakdown statistics on a state by state basis on what kind of inmate and what kind of person on the street gets tasered.

Villager said...

Reggie - I don't see any national organization tracking taser-related deaths. My suggestion to you is to begin tracking the information on your own. Over time you will have some damning statistics for the taser industry to deal with...

Shawna Murray M.D. said...

A fair number of these Taser deaths are more likely due to restraint asphyxia. When someone is put down prone on their stomach and chest, it is difficult to breathe. Often, while handcuffs are being placed, pressure is put on the chest wall which interferes with ventilating the lungs. This causes more struggle and then more use of inappropriate force by the police. People die very quickly during these "struggles" because they can't breathe. See: Restraint Asphyxia – Silent Killer, Part ONE http://bit.ly/qwaL2x Cobbs' autopsy comments on this: http://bit.ly/rnJkB8

Villager said...

Dr. Murray - Thank you for sharing your insights. Do you agree that there are too many of these taser-related deaths than necessary in America?