July 21, 2011

Taser Death: Alonzo Ashley (Denver, CO)

It happened again. We learned that another person's death has been hastened along by the use of 50,000 volts of electricity from a police officer's taser gun. This time the victim was 29-year old Alonzo Ashley.

Denver police said that officers used a Taser on Ashley but that the device was ineffective and he continued to struggle with officers until he was finally held down.

Police were called to the zoo at 5:02 p.m. Monday after the man threatened his girlfriend and attacked a zoo security guard. After arriving, officers contacted Ashley, who was acting irrationally, and he repeatedly refused to comply with officers' commands, police said.

Ashley's girlfriend, who asked not to be named, denied that Ashley threatened her. The girlfriend says that he was getting delirious because of the extreme heat. She told TV reporters that Ashley had been putting his head in a fountain, and zoo security told him to stop.

When police attempted to restrain Ashley, he attacked the officers and zoo security guards — hitting one officer and biting another officer and a security guard, police said. At this point officers used a taser gun on the young man.

Family members say that Ashley was "a positive kid."

Officers later called paramedics to examine the man, citing his "unusual behavior and extraordinary strength." While waiting for the paramedics, he started to convulse and stopped breathing, police said. He was taken to Presbyterian/St. Luke's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police say that drugs and drug paraphernalia were found on the suspect. Ashley's girlfriend said he had no drugs on him.

Some community members, including civil rights activist Alvertis Simmons, the Rev. Patrick Demmer and Pastor Reginald Holmes, announced tonight they plan to hold a rally outside the Denver Zoo entrance beginning at 2 p.m. Friday.

Simmons said in an e-mail, "The killing of this Black man is questionable at least and suspicious at best."

12 comments:

Gunfighter said...

Based on the information provided, it sounds perfectly justified.

Felicia said...

The information in the post is inaccurate. It reads one day that he died at the zoo, and another way he died at the hospital. The victim was my neighbor and his girlfriend had told the landlord that the officers were the ones being aggressive, obviously he was suffering from a stroke and they couldnt handle him correctly! I am outraged!!!

Villager said...

Felicia - The police are usually quick to spin these taser-related deaths in a certain way on the first day. Eventually the truth comes out.

re: the information on his death. My understanding is that he stopped breathing while still onsite at the zoo. However, he wasn't officially pronounced as dead until seen by medical personnel at the hospital.

Josh said...

It wasn't a taser gun, it was a hand held taser. Far less voltage. He was beating a security guard and refused arrest and was TASED!! He wasn't shot! And don't forget he was found with drugs and drug paraphernalia on him so it is not unreasonable to assume he was high, not having a stroke.

Totally justified. Next time don't resist arrest, or beat someone in the head. It has nothing to do with race. It had nothing to do with the cops. Odds are this guy was going to die either way. Don't do drugs, stay in school, don't make stupid decisions and expect no consequences. IM OUTRAGED

Josh said...

Felicia, stop making excuses. He was attacking two other men! He refused to stop, thats called resisting arrest! They were totally justified. Nothing was obvious about him struggling from the heat. No one else at the zoo was acting a fool, AND he was found with drugs and drug paraphernalia so likely he was struggling from being HIGH! Thats why "they couldn't handle him." I AM OUTRAGED that people come to his defense. Don't do drugs, don't make stupid decisions, act like a civilized human being and don't be surprised when cops react when your beating an innocent man. Its not like they shot the guy.

Villager said...

Josh - The penalty for resisting arrest or disrespecting a police officer or fighting in the zoo should never be DEATH. Wouldn't you agree that the job of the police is not to be the executioner in these cases?

Villager said...

All - Autopsy reports are inconclusive.

Shawna Murray M.D. said...

This is a classic case of death caused by restraint asphyxia(with associated Taser use). The police are so poorly trained and so protected by powerful DAs and FBI agents that they continue to kill people needlessly despite an understanding of this condition. The "superhuman strength" is because victims are being suffocated due to prone positioning with weight on their backs. They experience severe air-hunger because they are able to move their chest wall and ventilate the lungs making them desperate to escape the restraint so that they can breathe.

See Compressive Asphyxia http://bit.ly/tSvaLb

Google: The Hazards of Prone Restraint

The SCOTUS has agreed with a lower court that these suffocation deaths are unconstitutional: Colorado police should learn Wyoming’s lesson - The Broadside : Colorado Springs Gazette, CO http://bit.ly/q0Euds

Villager said...

Dr. Murray - Thank you for the links you provide in your comment as well as your assessment on the cause of death in this taser-related killing.

Shawna Murray M.D. said...

The only way to stop these needless deaths at the hands of the police is to confront their misinformation and poor training directly. They have become adept at victim blaming; the words and attitudes they promote hide their criminal malfeasance. While tasers might not always be the direct cause of death, they are used to silence speech and force compliance with incompetent use of restraint. These would seem to be in violation of the first and fourth amendments and so are unconstitutional.

Demand an end to incompetent restraint and the use of Tasers to force their compliance.

lenny said...

toxicology comes back no drugs in his system ruled homicide no charges on the denver police......

Villager said...

Lenny - Thanx for the update. The police often like to demonize taser-deaths by saying that drugs were involved. No drugs in this case. Mr. Ashley needed help not taser electrocution.