Goldsboro, N.C. — The State Bureau of Investigation was called in Wednesday morning to investigate after a man died in an altercation with a Wayne County deputy, authorities said.
Deputy Martin McAlduff used a stun gun to subdue Joe Spruill Jr. during the incident, said Capt. Tom Effler of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office.
The incident began at about 5:30 a.m. when deputies responded to a report of a fight near the intersection of N.C. Highway 111 and Dollard Town Road, southeast of Goldsboro, Effler said. When McAlduff and Deputy Zachary Kinlaw arrived at the scene, they didn't see any evidence of a fight and searched the area.
The deputies found Spruill sitting on a porch on Thrasher Circle nearby and were escorting him to his Dollard Town Road home when he became unruly, Effler said. The deputies said Spruill began throwing things at them and resisted when they tried to take him into custody for disorderly conduct, Effler said, so McAlduff fired his stun gun.
One prong of the stun gun hit Spruill near the neck, and the second hit him in the back, Effler said. The deputies called EMS, which is standard protocol, he said, but while waiting for paramedics to arrive, they noticed Spruill was lying motionless on the road.
Paramedics declared Spruill dead at the scene.
Joe Spruill Sr. said his son had collapsed in late December and had been hospitalized for heart problems. He said his son was still on medication for his condition.
Jessica Spruill said her husband was well known in the area and that deputies knew he had a heart condition.
"They were very aware of the situation in reference to his health and what happened at Christmas," Jessica Spruill said. "They knew his heart was bad, and they (used a stun gun on) him anyway."
Effler said the deputies didn't know about Joe Spruill Jr.'s alleged heart condition. He noted that deputies used a stun gun on him about a year and a half ago for not cooperating during another investigation.
"At this point, I do not know of anything that they have done wrong," he said.
McAlduff has been placed on administrative duty, pending the outcome of the SBI investigation. That is standard procedure when someone dies in an incident involving a law enforcement officer.
Joe Spruill Jr. has a criminal record dating to 1996, with convictions on several drug charges and for assault, according to state Department of Correction records.
He is survived by a wife and four children.
"God gave him back to us," Jessica Spruill said, recalling her husband's collapse a month ago. "He pulled through that. He was able to have second chance, and the police took that away from him (Wednesday) morning.
"Outraged is far from what I'm feeling," she said.