Virginia man dies while in police custody in Enfield
Posted May 11, 2015
Enfield, N.C. — 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.