Report: Taser used several times on Raleigh man who died
Posted April 17, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Raleigh police officers trying to control a man behaving aggressively toward them used a Taser device multiple times to try to subdue him before he died, according to a preliminary internal police report made public Wednesday afternoon.
Thomas Sadler, 45, collapsed and was later pronounced dead in the early hours of April 10 after police responded to reports that he was screaming profanity at the top of his lungs and running naked through a church parking lot in the 500 block of Mial Street.
The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into the case, and Wednesday's memorandum from Raleigh's police chief to the city manager is standard whenever a person dies in police custody.
The two-page report says Sadler initially complied with the responding officer's instructions to sit down but that his demeanor "suddenly changed" when another officer arrived and the officers began talking to one another.
"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 states. "Mr. Sadler leapt to his feet as he spoke and began to charge toward Officer (M.A.) Ford with his fists clenched and held out in front of his face."
Police say Ford ran backward from Sadler and, believing his safety was in jeopardy, stunned Sadler with his Taser.
Sadler then "actively resisted" multiple attempts by the second officer, S.M. Archambault, to handcuff him, according to the report, which noted that Sadler's weight of 250 to 300 pounds and the fact that he was sweating made it difficult to bring him under control.
"Officer Ford reactivated his Taser and Officer Archambault again attempted to handcuff Mr. Sadler, who again resisted," the report states. "This sequence continued several times until Officer Archambault was able to handcuff Mr. Sadler."
Still, Sadler resisted while he was on the ground and then "suddenly stopped thrashing and grew quiet," according to the memo.
The report also notes that, at one point early into the encounter, Sadler "had difficulty expressing himself" and that Ford asked him if he needed assistance.
It also says that Sadler also "violently assaulted" a minor who lived in his home and that police had also received a 911 call about that.
Ford, according to the report, has been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of the SBI investigation as well as an internal police investigation into Sadler's death.
Raleigh Police Department policy dictates that Tasers, also known as conducted-energy devices, "may be used when it is necessary to incapacitate or gain compliance from a person that is actively resisting or exhibiting active aggression, or to prevent individuals from harming themselves or others."