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Updated: February 11th, 2005 12:46:29 PM

Chicago Man Dies After Police Strike Him with Taser Stun Gun

MICHAEL TARM
Associated Press


CHICAGO (AP) -- The Chicago Police Department is delaying a plan to distribute more Taser stun guns after a 54-year-old man died and a teenager was critically injured this week after officers used the guns to subdue them.

But police Superintendent Philip Cline defended the officers' use of the weapons and said the department will not discontinue the 200 Tasers it uses now.

"We remain confident that the use of Tasers in Chicago has made our streets, our citizens and our police safer,'' Cline said.

Police said they used the stun gun when they were unable to restrain an unruly man who was trying to kick and bite officers at a high-rise apartment building on the city's North Side Thursday afternoon.

The man went into cardiac arrest after the device was used and later died, according to Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford. Authorities did not identify the man Thursday night.

After telling those around him to back away, the police ``gave three distinct warnings'' but the man continued to resist, police Cmdr. Michael Chasen said.

"The subject again started to come at the sergeant and the sergeant deployed the Taser,'' Chasen said.

Paramedics realized the man was under distress and took him to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, police said. An autopsy is scheduled to determine the cause of death.

The stun guns Chicago police officers use temporarily paralyze people with a 50,000-volt jolt delivered by two barbed darts whose current can penetrate clothing.

The death came the same day an official with the Department of Children and Family Services filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against the city of Chicago and a police officer who used a stun gun on a 14-year-old boy on Monday. The boy, who also went into cardiac arrest, remained hospitalized Thursday night.

Authorities were called to the North Side facility Monday morning after the teen, who is a ward of the state, injured his hand in a violent outburst. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound boy had attacked three female employees of the home and punched out security windows after being told to remove his baseball cap, police said.

The lawsuit filed by DCFS guardianship administrator D. Jean Ortega-Piron accuses the officer of using the stun gun without knowing whether it was safe to use on a minor and without taking into consideration the medications the boy was on.

Jennifer Hoyle, a spokeswoman for the city's law department, said she could not comment on the lawsuit because city officials hadn't had a chance to review it.

Cline said the two incidents happening so close together ``have prompted me to ask questions about the use of Taser by law enforcement.''

However, Cline said the department would investigate the two incidents before drawing any conclusions.

"It would be extremely premature at this point to attribute either of these incidents directly to the use of the Taser,'' he said.
 
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