Raleigh police: Man hit with Taser several times before he died

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comApril 17, 2013 

— Police used a Taser stun gun “several times” while attempting to subdue a man last week before he stopped breathing and his heart stopped, according to a report providing the first detailed account of the incident released Wednesday.

Thomas Jeffrey Sadler, 45, of 500 Mial Street collapsed in the middle of the street, about 50 yards from his home, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The incident occurred April 10 about 3:45 a.m. when police were dispatched to investigate multiple 911 calls about a “naked man, running around screaming at the top of his lungs and pounding on the top of his car,” according to the police department’s report.

There were also reports of a woman screaming, police said.

When Raleigh officer M.A. Ford arrived, he found Sadler “naked in front of his house,” according to the report. Ford told investigators that Sadler initially complied with his instructions to sit down, but that he had difficulty expressing himself to Ford.

Ford said he was asking Sadler whether he needed assistance when another officer, S.M. Archambault, arrived. Both officers were speaking to Sadler “when his demeanor suddenly changed,” according to the report.

“He began to utter profanity and said either, ‘I’m going to kill you,’ or ‘You’re going to have to kill me,’ ” the report said.

The officers said Sadler “leapt” to his feet as he spoke and began to charge Ford with his fists clenched and held out in front of his face. Ford began to run backwards away from Sadler, according to the report.

Ford, thinking that he was in danger, drew his Taser and discharged it at Sadler, who fell to the ground. Archambault attempted to secure Sadler’s arm behind his back, but was “bucked off” by Sadler who was still “actively resisting,” despite repeated commands to place his hands behind his back, according to the report.

Sadler stood about 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed close to 300 pounds. Archambault reported having difficulty trying to gain control of Sadler because of his size and strength and because he was “sweating profusely,” the officers reported.

Ford reactivated his Taser, and Archambault tried again to handcuff Sadler, who resisted. “This sequence continued several times until Officer Archambault was able to handcuff Mr. Sadler,” according to the report.

Ford then called emergency medical services for Sadler because of the use of the Taser, according to the report. The officers said while Sadler was handcuffed he “continued to resist by thrashing around and growling while he was on the ground.

“Mr. Sadler suddenly stopped thrashing and grew quiet. Officers immediately checked him and determined that he had stopped breathing and did not have a pulse,” the report said.

One of the officers began chest compressions, and the other called 911 to report that Sadler was neither conscious nor breathing, according to the report.

Emergency workers who arrived were unable to revive Sadler. He was pronounced dead in the middle of Wiggs Street, just behind Emmanuel Baptist Church.

The officers said that among the 911 calls received by emergency dispatchers the morning of the incident was one from a juvenile boy who lived with Sadler. The child had called 911 to report that he had been assaulted by Sadler, according to the report.

Emergency workers transported the child to a hospital for treatment, according to the report.

Ford has been placed on administrative duty while the State Bureau of Investigation reviews how police handled the incident. The SBI’s findings will be turned over to the Wake County District Attorney’s Office.

The department’s report was initially viewed by the City Manager’s Office and is part of an internal investigation to determine whether the officers violated any department policies.

Sadler, a native of Powhatan, Va., lived in a rented house on Mial Street, in the city’s Five Points neighborhood. Neighbors say he had moved into the house with the woman and a teenage boy about two years ago.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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