Parkton, N.C. — A Robeson County deputy shot a mentally handicapped man with a stun gun at a crossroads store in Parkton Friday morning, and he later died, authorities said.
George McEachin, 48, was at the 301 Kwik Shop, at 23011 U.S. Highway 301, at about 7:30 a.m. when his confrontation with a deputy ended in his death.
Sheriff Kenneth Sealey declined to release any details of the incident, and store employees refused to discuss it.
Chris Hoffman, who routinely visits 301 Kwik Shop, said he heard that McEachin became violent.
"Somebody said he went in there and started chucking drinks and then came out and tried to stop somebody in a car – like he was going to take a car, like he got ill or something," Hoffman said.
McEachin lived at Green Manor Rest Home, a couple of miles away on West Parkton Tobermory Road. Nearby residents said they often saw him and other rest home residents walking up and down the road.
Hoffman said McEachin was a fixture at 301 Kwik Shop, where he would pump people's gas for a buck to get something cold to drink or pick up cigarette butts.
"He never messed with nobody. Everybody called him 'Scooby,'" Hoffman said. "He would talk to himself every now and then. You could tell something was a little off, but other than that, he was good people."
The State Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the events that led to McEachin's death, and the deputy, whose name hasn't been released, is on administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation.
McEachin's body has been sent for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
There have been at least three other deaths involving stun guns in North Carolina in the past four years.
- In March 2008, 17-year-old Darryl Turner of Charlotte died after a police officer shocked him. A federal jury found the gun manufacturer at fault and awarded Turner's family $10 million.
- Last August, 56-year-old Michael Evans died after he was hit with a stun gun by Fayetteville police. Three officers were cleared of any wrongdoing.
- Last November, 61-year-old Roger Anthony of Halifax County died after a police officer shocked him. The former officer is facing one count of involuntary manslaughter in the case, which remains under SBI investigation.
A study recently released by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that stun guns are safe and effective and that their risks overall are extremely low.
The study looked at 1,200 cases nationwide where law enforcement officers used stun guns and found no link between their use and cardiac complications. None of the suspects who received shots to the chest were found to have heart-related problems.