December 26, 2010

Simi Valley District Attorney Clears Police Officer James Wismer in Taser-Related Death of Charles Torrence

It took over a year ... but the Ventura County District Attorney issued a 37-page report clearing the Simi Valley police officer James Wismer and the others involved in the taser-related death of 35-year of Charles Torrence.

Torrence was killed back in July 2009. The coroner never came to a definitive conclusion about whether or not the 50,000 volts of electricity jolted twice by Wismer's taser gun into Torrence had anything to do with his death.

Torrence was not a nice man. However, he was an UNARMED man. That didn't seem to matter in the post-death analysis. In a 37-page report, the District Attorney’s Office said the force used by police was “fully justified.” The report also says there was insufficient evidence that the police actions were even a factor in Torrence’s death.
The DA’s report confirms the officers did the right thing,” Simi Valley Police Chief Mike Lewis said. “I know it’s reassuring to the officers involved in this. They were traumatized, too, in this unexpected death.”
Officer Wisner involved told investigators he pulled his Taser out because he could see Torrence was acting violently, sweating profusely, likely on drugs and yelling that he was thirsty. Torrence was 6-feet tall and 240 pounds.

A test of the officer’s Taser showed it was fired three times, but an autopsy found no physical evidence on Torrence’s body that the gun’s electrical probes ever entered the skin. The police officer switched the Taser to “drive-stun” mode in an attempt to control Torrence, who was flailing his arms and punching at him with fists, the reports show. The stun mode requires the Taser be applied directly to the skin. The officer could not restrain Torrence until additional officers arrived and helped hold Torrence down until handcuffs could be applied.

Officers carried him by his arms and legs to a police car, but decided to put him down outside the car because Torrence continued to resist, the reports show.

Torrence stopped breathing while laying face down with his hands and feet restrained and at least one officer putting pressure on his upper back. Officers said he continued moving around and making grunting noises until he stopped breathing.

Officers rolled him over, paramedics performed CPR and Torrence was rushed to a Simi Valley Hospital, where he died the next day.

No comments: