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O.C. inmate dies after being struck by Taser

Times Staff Writer

A 28-year-old transient incarcerated at Orange County Jail for drinking in public has died after being subdued with a stun gun, authorities said Saturday.

“He was scheduled to be released today,” said Damon Micalizzi, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The man’s name was withheld pending notification of relatives.

The death was the county’s second associated with a Taser gun in a little more than a month.

Micalizzi said the incident occurred about 12:45 p.m. Friday when guards responded to reports of an inmate out of control.

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“He was banging his head violently against the wall,” Micalizzi said. “He was in a six-man cell, and the other five inmates panicked.”

When deputies arrived, they removed him from the cell and tried to calm him down. Instead, Micalizzi said, “a confrontation ensued. He got violent. In order to handcuff him, they had to use the Taser. They put him in a restraining chair and escorted him to the nursing station. At some point, the inmate stopped breathing.”

Emergency lifesaving measures were employed, and the man was rushed to St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, where he was pronounced dead about 1:44 p.m., Micalizzi said.

“It’s an unfortunate incident,” he said. “We’ll have to wait for a lot of investigations to take place before we can figure out exactly what caused the guy to do what he did.”

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No cause of death had been determined, and the matter was being investigated by the Orange County district attorney’s office, a coroner’s spokesman said.

The incident was reminiscent of the Sept. 9 death of a 25-year-old Anaheim man suspected of beating his wife.

Officers who entered the apartment of Jorge Renteria Terrquiz shot him with a Taser after he attacked them, authorities said. Terrquiz lost consciousness and was taken to Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Anaheim, where he died.

That incident also is under investigation.

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Tasers, commonly used by law enforcement agencies, employ compressed nitrogen to propel two darts attached by wire that deliver a 50,000-volt shock in five-second intervals to incapacitate a target.

Amnesty International reported this year that since 2001 more than 230 people have died in the United States after being struck with Tasers, though none of the deaths have been conclusively linked to the guns.

Taser International, which developed and manufactures the weapons, has steadfastly defended the guns as nonlethal.

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david.haldane@latimes.com


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