Archive for Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Man dies after Taser incident

Shawnee County officers stun Lawrence resident in Topeka

April 2, 2008


Local man dies after being tased

A Lawrence man died after being tased by a Shawnee County Sheriff's Deputy at the Goodyear plant in Topeka. Enlarge video

Shawnee County officials on Tuesday identified the person who died after officers used a Taser stun gun on him as a Lawrence resident.

The sheriff's office is investigating to determine whether they did anything wrong Friday night when they used a Taser on Walter Edward Haake Jr., of rural Lawrence.

Shortly after 11 p.m. Friday, sheriff's officers were sent to Topeka's Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. on a medical call, according to a department news release. Goodyear security officers were trying to keep an employee from leaving the plant in his car because they didn't think he could safely drive, the release stated.

After several attempts to control the employee, a deputy used his Taser, and the man was removed from the car. The man became unresponsive and resuscitation was attempted. He was taken to a hospital where he later died.

The Shawnee County coroner is conducting an investigation to determine the cause of death. The sheriff's office is conducting a review of the incident.

A man who answered the phone Tuesday at the Haake residence declined to comment on the incident. According to Haake's obituary in Tuesday's Journal-World, he died Sunday in Topeka. He was a U.S. Army Green Beret during the Vietnam War and a Goodyear employee.


Dixie Jones 10 years ago

my thoughts and prayers go out to the family of this man.

aginglady 10 years ago

Nothing was said about him being drunk. The company said he had a non-work related "condition" or "injury" as I recall.This is a local family people, be respectful.

igby 10 years ago

He might have been drunk? On the job. We'll see.

igby 10 years ago

I'm sure the wrongful death suit will fall on Goodyear and the County.

Keith 10 years ago

There's more information (as usual) on the site.

kansasredlegs 10 years ago

Tazers aren't bad, people are. Wait, it was the cops. Tazers are not bad, I am sure of it, I read Olin's memo to the city commission.Don't worry City of Lawrence and its insurance carrier, I have full faith that Topeka PD will fit the facts of this incident to justify the use of this weapon."Green Beret, Vietnam" - Did Topeka police have a flashback to the 80's and think that this man was John Rambo?

inatux 10 years ago

More people have died from Tasers than ephedra. Interesting.My prayers go out to both families: the family of the man who died and the cop who will have to live with the guilt that he killed someone using this horrible device.

aginglady 10 years ago

Thanks Keith.Here's the actual page thought you all said CJOnline comments were shut down?They already start on this article. Topeka commentors seem a lot like Lawrence's .gasp

TheYetiSpeaks 10 years ago

Can we please stop calling Tazers "non-lethal force". What? You mean sending electricity through someone's body might have effects we didn't account for? Remove Tazers from police department arsenals or change their rules for when they can use them.

Reader2 10 years ago

Not only did this family lose their husband, father, and grandfather, but now they are having to deal with this news. A most unfortunate thing since they found out about the taser incident by reading yesterday's Topeka paper. The Haake family has been good to me throughout the years that I have known them. My thoughts and prayers are with them. Shame on Goodyear and the Shawnee County Sheriff's office for letting this information out before telling the family.

Ragingbear 10 years ago

First of all, security is in no way qualified to even attempt to judge if somebody is in a safe state to drive unless they seem to be heavily intoxicated. The Taser Gun was originally designed to be used ONLY in situations where an actual gun would be used. It was never labeled as "non lethal" and was actually listed as "Less Lethal" despite the companies constantly trying to present "proof" of them being perfectly safe. BTW, a taser gun is so powerful that one can actually drop a full grown and belligerent bull. Police respond to almost any call of an irate person (who was probably irate that he was in a hurry and being unlawfully detained by incompetent security guards. Perhaps because he thought he was having a heart attack and they refused to call an ambulance for him) and will Tase them almost immediately. Just like before tasers they would pepper-spray virtually anyone they came across.These police will probably get IA to tell everyone that "No rules were broken". Keep in mind that there are cases going on of clear cases of brutality and even police sexual assault where the officers "did nothing wrong". Also, electricity will cause virtually every muscle in the body to contract and not move. So this footage of officers punching people in the face while being tased and them screaming "Quit resisting!", despite it being biologically impossible.

doc1 10 years ago

People die from fighting police just as well. Tazers are still a good tool.

LogicMan 10 years ago

"What? You mean sending electricity through someone's body might have effects"Like electrocution?Sitting in his own car, on private property, not breaking the law (before the officer arrived), and then killed -- lawyers must be falling all over themselves this morning to gain representation for his family.

doc1 10 years ago

Logic. Do you know the whole story? I doubt you do. You quoted that he was sitting in his car, on private property, not breaking the law. How do you know that he didn't flip out and pull a weopon on the deputy? Do any of you who are so quick to jump to conclusions know the story. The answer is NO. All of you need to quit acting like children gossiping on a playground and wait for the full story. There are many good reasons someone might be forced to use a tazer. The fact is none of us know what led up to him being tazed. All we have is a reason why they were called to the scene.

Haiku_Cuckoo 10 years ago

They should have called a family member to come and get him. It's true that they may have saved some lives by keeping him from driving while impaired, but the taser was the wrong way to subdue him.

princess81 10 years ago

My condolences go out to Matt & Marshall. May your family have the strength to deal with this unfortunate occurence.

LogicMan 10 years ago

doc1: Read the story. It's there, e.g., "the man was removed from the car". Point still holds about the lawyers -- the wrongful death case is a definite."All of you need to quit acting like children gossiping"Unlike you?Welcome to the Internet age. Glad you could join us.

monkeyspunk 10 years ago

I am usually not a person to come out against the police in such a situation, but I must admit, they knew he had some sort of health issue. Dispatch would have told them. Until more details come out about how it all went down, we won't really know if they followed proper procedures, or if perhaps this was one of those incidents where "proper procedures" aren't so proper.LPD should still get Tazers though (if they don't have them already), but use incidents like this to improve or modify their tazer policy .

georgeofwesternkansas 10 years ago

The guy who did this was a cop. Did you expect anything less from him??

whatupdown 10 years ago

The man had hit his head and had a large knot on it, thats all. A bit woosy.

ThinkonKS 10 years ago

The call to 911 was recorded as a "medical" call according to one of the news sources in Topeka. Therefore the police new that it was a medical situation and should have never used a Taser on a gentleman that couldn't drive because he didn't have his car keys anyway. The paramedics are trained in dealing with someone that is combative due to "medical stress".

FF4LIFE 10 years ago

I would hope that a tazer gun should only be used if the officer felt that he/she was in danger of being hurt their self. Not just to "control " someone...

OldEnuf2BYurDad 10 years ago

"suffering from a medical condition and had resisted emergency personnel's efforts to subdue him. The sheriff's office said after several attempts to control Haake, a deputy used a Taser on him." - Topeka Capitol-UrinalKeep in mind that there are "medical" conditions that can effect one's mental state. He could have been delusional/delirious because of drug interactions or head injury... we don't know. A mild concussion will make you quite combative. My point is, there ARE reasons to detain someone outside of alcohol-related matters.

nekansan 10 years ago

According to posts on CJOnline from people claiming to be familiar with the incident the individual was actively attempting to drive off. Medical and Police personnel were both present and had made repeated attempts to stop the man from driving off. Apparently all the people there believed that he was a danger to himself and others if he got behind the wheel. As of now, there is no evidence to indicate if the taser was a direct or even an indirect cause of his death. The posters there seem to indicate that the man was not intoxicated but have had some type of head injury and he was behaving irrationally, and that injury, not the taser could be found to be the cause of death. From the postings at CJ it sounds like the actions of the officer could have saved the lives of others had this man got behind the wheel and caused an auto accident. It's even possible that if the taser had been used sooner he could have received more immediate medical care and the outcome could have been totally different. The officers have to not only balance the risk of injury to the individual being tazed, but the risk to the officers, medical professionals, and public at large. I'd bet anyone any amount of money that the officer involved in this didn't show up to work hoping to injure someone and that they truly believed they were trying to help this individual.

Adrienne Sanders 10 years ago

Reticent_irreverent might be onto something. Diabetics in hypoglycemia often seem like they might be drunk, and are also often belligerent. A friend of mine sometimes has to call cops/paramedics to help subdue her husband and treat him when he's hypoing.Regardless, tasering someone who's out of it due to a medical condition seems like an obviously horrible idea, b/c how can they know if that will affect the medical condition? It's a shame that someone didn't think better of using the taser.

Buggie7 10 years ago

Ok this is stupid. The man who I know was having a heart attack in the plant. He said he was well enough to drive himself to the hospital. The unrulyness is that he refused to go there by good year transport or hospital. So they tased him. If I was his family I would sue sue sue. They had no business tasing a man that there was KNOWN heart problems going on . The tase definatley killed him. You cant do that to someone having a freakin heart attack. There are other ways he could have been subdued cmon officers use your brain and I hope you have great insurance and alot of money cause its gonna go to this victims family. RIP my thoughts go out to you and yours

twaldaisy 10 years ago

nekansan: According to an eyewitness GY personnel had the man's car keys and his car was blocked in. I do not believe Mr. Haake was going anywhere. Allegdedly he was tased then drug out his car face first in the dirt. I just hope the truth comes out and no cover up for this deadly mistake. No way this can be made right. May he rest in peace and I hope the family can find the strength to deal with this horrible tragedy.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 10 years ago

It appears that many of us know EXACTLY what happened... and yet our stories don't jive.

twaldaisy 10 years ago

Quite right OldEnuf. I got my "version" from CJOnline. That is why I said I hope the truth comes out, because as always there are lots of "versions." Again, I hope the family can find the strength to deal with their loss.

gphawk89 10 years ago

Let's wait for the autopsy. Can anyone cite documentation of a Taser causing a death where the "victim" did NOT already have an underlying medical condition (heart problem, delirium, intoxication, drug influence, etc.)? There are past articles articles about someone dying after being pursued in a footchase, being put in handcuffs, being physically restrained, being hit with pepper spray, being put in a chokehold, being forced into a police car, etc. So it's not necessarily the Taser that's to blame.

gphawk89 10 years ago

Whatever the outcome, I feel badly for everyone involved. Mr. Haake's family, the cop and his family, co-workers...

Buggie7 10 years ago

gphawk. Im a medical professional and yes it is the taser to blame when the officers were told UPFRONT that this man was having a heart attack and no he was not dragged face first as stated above the man just wanted to get to the hospital and officers on site and GY said him driving himself was not acceptable or an option. And I guess NO the taser is not itself to blame its the bad judgement of the officers who used it.

Mkh 10 years ago

This is trend happening all over the nation. The Police have demostrated they are not smart enough or well trained enough to carry tazers. I hope this man's family sues the heck out of the police officer and the department.

Haiku_Cuckoo 10 years ago

Im a medical professional and yes it is the taser to blame when the officers were told upfront that this man was having a heart attack.===========On the other hand, if he was already in the process of having a heart attack, that may have been what killed him rather than the taser. If an otherwise healthy person was killed after being tased, then I'd lay blame on the taser exclusively. This revelation of a heart attack changes things a bit though. Nobody can say for sure until an autopsy has been performed.They were absolutely correct in preventing him from driving, but the taser was unnecessary.I

Cait McKnelly 10 years ago

I too am a medical professional and it's my belief that if the man was having a heart attack he obviously was having electrical conduction problems through the heart muscle already. Tasers work by sending an electrical current through muscle and making it clamp up and go stiff. Heart is a muscle. There is every possibility that Tasing him sent his heart into a fatal rhythm it couldn't recover from. Thus it was the Taser that killed him but my bet is the coroner will say he died from a "heart attack", never mind it may have been one he could have/would have recovered from if he hadn't been Tazed.

BigDog 10 years ago

There seems to be a lot of knowledge of what happened on this board yet most can't even read the fact that it was the Shawnee County Sheriff's Department that responded .... not the Topeka Police Department.And for all the sue happy individuals ..... I've read that some thought Goodyear should have let him drive himself. Would the company not open itself up to lawsuit if they let him just drive himself if he actually thought he was having a heart attack ..... then something happens?Also, if you have been reading the Topeka paper, Monday's paper states that the individual was suffering from a "non-work related illness". Don't know exactly that means.I believe more and more of the details will come out if we wait. The time of the incident was right after shift change so I am sure there are plenty of people who saw pieces of the incident.

janeyb 10 years ago

Say what you want, that is one deputy I don't want to respond to an emergency with myself or one of my family members. I don't want to be tased because I'm confused due to a medical condition.There was a news clip out a few months ago where a man was holding his baby and the police wanted to arrest him (I don't remember where this was). He moved to give the baby to someone and they tased him. He fell and the baby's head banged on the sidewalk. I guess that is like the gun slogan. Tasers don't kill people. Stupid a$$ policemen kill people.

jonas 10 years ago

This is, to my mind, an issue about what levels of force police are trained to use, not about the tools that they use to implement that force. The idea of a Tazer being an overly dangerous tool seems questionable to me. Someone line up forty people in two groups of twenty, shoot twenty with a tazer, shoot twenty with a regular police-issue side-arm, and count the relative survival rates. We can wait while you compile the results. I would imagine, knowing nothing about this case other than the detail stated above, that the problem is the view of tazers being way below the guns in the officer's minds in terms of dangerous or lethal qualities. It is clear that tazers can create harmful situations for people, and cops should be trained to use them as a last resort, or I suppose a second to last result. There should be a series of necessary steps between the encountering of resistence and the use of a tazer, just as there surely are between the first encountering of resistence and the use of the officer's firearm. But to say they should be eliminated, that just leaves the guns, unless we're suggesting that police should simply have no way to forcefully implement their authority.

janeyb 10 years ago

Good idea about the testing, Jonas. Limit the test subjects to sheriff deputies, policemen, security officers and MPs. Some of the posters seem to feel it would be OK to taser a person who is drunk. Someone who is drunk can very easily vomit into their throats and suffocate or aspirate it into their lungs. That really isn't a good idea. Also, sometimes people who appear drunk aren't. They have a medical problem.The guidelines for police use of a taser need to be as detailed and restrictive as the use of a gun.

jonas 10 years ago

janeyb: If you can't get someone who's drunk to the ground without a tazer, I personally feel that you probably don't belong in law enforcement. Maybe they should just train police to sneak up and kneel behind their knees while another shoves them from the front.

nekansan 10 years ago

"Did the officer even tussle with the man before deciding that electro-shocking him into submission was an intelligent course of action?Obviously the most distressing thing about this is that an innocent man lost his life for no reason. Only slightly less aggravating is the number of people who are willing to excuse this as a police officer "doing his job" or are ready to some how pin culpability for this tragedy on Mr. Haake himself."The latest article in the CJ does indicate that the individuals on the scene "spent a lot of time with this person" trying to remove him from his vehicle." and that the man was"very resistive" to sheriff's deputies and to Goodyear fire and rescue personnel. Before the tasing, deputies and fire and rescue personnel "pleaded" with Haake to comply with their requests, Barta said."It is a very unfortunate incident, but also one in which the victim sounds just as much to blame as anyone. The sheriff's officer can't allow an individual to dive a vehicle if they are a danger to themselves or others. I'd like to hear if the victim was given a verbal warning that he would be tazed if he continued to resist. I'd bet the answer here is yes.

janeyb 10 years ago

My understanding of his being "very resistive" was sitting in a blocked car without keys with his arms locked around the steering wheel. Hardly a danger and different from being combative or agressive, and I'm sure if he had been combative the sheriff's department would be shouting it from the rooftops. However, since there were witnesses, they will be careful and call it very resistive.

Haiku_Cuckoo 10 years ago

Since the officer's actions resulted in the death of Mr. Haake...===========Not so fast. Several sources said that he had a heart attack. Rather than speculating on what might have happened, let's see what the autopsy results show.

hockmano 10 years ago

If this was my one of my family members you best believe I would sue their pants off.The guy has an apparent heart attack, stroke or some other awful medical emergency and they TAZE him? What the hell were they thinking?Did it ever occur to them that in his medical state he simply wasnt coherrent as to what was really happening?I hope his family gets reparations.They deserve them!

lounger 10 years ago

This is case in point as to why lawrence Police should NOT use tazers!

lounger 10 years ago

blue73harley-the world is not this black and white friend! How about using communication? Its a lost art and I Will bet the police are not put through as much training on communication as they are on firearms!!

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