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Virginia man dies while in police custody in Enfield

Posted May 11, 2015

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— A 55-year-old Virginia man died early Sunday after an Enfield police officer used a Taser on him during his arrest, the State Bureau Investigation said Monday.

Officials said Lt. Jerry Powell, 52, was responding to a report of a break-in at a Whitfield Street business at about 11 p.m. Saturday when he encountered Michael Tyrone Gallagher, of Midlothian.

Powell and a witness got into a physical confrontation with Gallagher, and the officer deployed his Taser. Gallagher was placed in handcuffs after being shocked, and authorities said he was unresponsive when Halifax County emergency crews arrived.

Gallagher was taken to Halifax County Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead early Sunday. His body has been sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy.

Gallagher's father, Chuck Gallagher, said he's trying to find answers to many questions in his son's death.

"It's tore this family up," he said. "I know Mike hasn't been an outstanding citizen in some respect, if they already had him and had handcuffs on him, why is he dead. What happened? Did you Taser him to death?"

Chuck Gallagher said investigators didn't tell him about the break-in until Monday. He said his son brought his girlfriend for a visit and didn't have much money on him.

The owner of the business – Holley's flower and gifts – declined to comment but allowed WRAL News inside her shop to see the damage. There was broken glass, blood and a rock the owner believes was used in the break-in to gain entry.

Powell and the witness were each treated for injuries at the same hospital, and Powell has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation, which is standard procedure.

Chesterfield County, Va., police said Michael Gallagher was wanted in connection with a commercial burglary in Chesterfield in March 2014.

Anyone with information about the incident in Enfield should call the SBI at 1-800-334-3000.


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  • Jacob Smith May 12, 2015
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  • Mike DaRookie May 12, 2015
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    yeah, he was not tasered to death. no one has ever been tasered to death. ever.

  • Billy Huddleston May 12, 2015
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    Difference is the guy actually had a weapon and used a weapon on the officer and actually injured the officer with the weapon

  • John Jones May 12, 2015
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    Why didn't this story make national headlines and capture the attention of the POTUS. AG and other civil rights groups? Can someone honestly answer that? What's the difference in this story and what happened in Ferguson and Baltimore and NYC? Are the folks protesting concerned about all police involved deaths or selective ones?

  • Joey Brandt May 11, 2015
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    why are you so hateful and insist on posting to every story?

  • Belinda Warrick May 11, 2015
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    If you have a preexisting medical problem that a taser would be bad for you then don't commit a crime. It's a simple solution. Don't run, don't resist, don't fight and tell them immediately that you have a medical condition but you have to behave for it to make a difference. It's simple, just don't commit a crime period.

  • Ronnie Reams May 11, 2015
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    Air Medal and PH out of order on father's cap. PH should follow the BS and then the AM.

  • Billy Huddleston May 11, 2015
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    What they fail to mention is the person actually had a weapon and used it on an officer. He was tased then attacked officers then used a weapon on an officer injuring an officer then was apprehended and placed into custody. While it is sad that he died we should wait until the autopsy is done because if someone gets tased and keeps going there is something else going on, And if said person dies there is something else involved that we don't know about yet

  • Lisa Bagwell May 11, 2015
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    That is a horrible thing to say. He may have been a criminal, but you don't know if he was maybe suffering from a mental disorder or what. He was someone's son. How would you like it if your child was tasered to death?

  • Ginny Marcom May 11, 2015
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    Mark, you are right. A life is a life. It doesn't matter what race a person is. The problem here is, this guy was committing a crime. He fought with police and a witness. He lost his life for making the wrong decisions. It's heartbreaking that he's dead but he did this to himself. No one made him break into that store and fight with a police officer. It was a choice he made all by himself.