Archive for Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Shawnee County deputies use Taser on Lawrence man three times before his death

April 2, 2008


— A Lawrence man was stunned with a Taser three times by a Shawnee County Sheriff's deputy shortly before his death, officials said Wednesday.

The Taser stun gun was applied to Walter Edward Haake Jr., 59, three times, delivering 1,200 volts each time, Shawnee County Sheriff Dick Barta said at a news conference.

"The first two times was two seconds each, and the third time was a little longer than that, maybe four seconds," he said

After the third time, there was a brief altercation and Haake was handcuffed, Barta said. Then Haake became non-responsive, and taken by ambulance to a hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly afterward, Barta said.

Deputies had been dispatched shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday to the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant, where Goodyear employees were trying to get Haake, a worker there, to not drive away because they thought he was suffering from a medical condition, possibly a head injury.

Deputies asked Haake to get some medical attention, but he refused, Barta said.

"The intent was to get this person helped," Barta said. "I don't know if the Taser caused," his death, he said. He said the deputies did take away Haake's vehicle keys.

Outside the news conference, a friend of Haake's carried a sign protesting the use of a Taser.

"You can't take the lazy way out and tase people," said John McNown. "They should've called a more qualified person to handle that situation," he said.

Barta said that two investigations into the incident are ongoing, but that the two deputies who were involved remained on duty.

The Taser was used in the "Drive Stun" capacity, where the Taser is held against the person without firing a cartridge, and is intended to cause pain without incapacitating the person, officials said.


BrianR 10 years ago

please note: if you tase one of my loved ones and they die, you'd better find a damn good place to hide.

BLITZED 10 years ago

Is tazing a person with a head injury really the best course of action. Thank God I don't live in Topeka.

Lowell Holmes 10 years ago

The man was thought to need medical attention so they tase him! Makes sense I guess if you are in Topeka!

janeyb 10 years ago

Three shocks to get a dying man out of his car? John McNown is correct. It was easier to tase a sick man than figure out another option. They had his keys so he wasn't going anywhere. Brains vs taser? Not likely. The taser was the quickest way back to the doughnut shop.

BigDog 10 years ago

BLITZEDWhere is there mention of him suffering from a head injury?

Haiku_Cuckoo 10 years ago

Where is there mention of him suffering from a head injury?========Fifth paragraph.

emceelean 10 years ago

Topeka is apparently the easiest target in the world.

doc1 10 years ago

Brian do you know the whole story? I doubt you do. How do you know that he didn't flip out and pull a weopon on the deputy, or maybe just start attacking? 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.

moveforward 10 years ago

I think it is odd how often...innocent victim + police action = tragedy

Bladerunner 10 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

misseve 10 years ago

What is KNOWN (and NOT published in ljw) is that this man did not have his keys so he could not have driven his car, and that someone parked their car behind his. What was published (also not bay ljw) was that they thought he had blacked out earlier. This is why medical was called in the first place. I would be more understanding to the plight of the cops IF medical personnel was on the scene and was attacked by this man. THEY WERE NOT. I think that IF ljw is going to publish a story... PUBLISH all of it not just the quips they are known for. If you all want a more in depth account go to This is a tragedy to the family and this was a needless death at the hands of cops (IMHO)

Potawatomi 10 years ago

Hey madmike... Steroids and HGH are illegal.... Guess not for cops. Nice lookin' roid ragin' cops.

smokey 10 years ago

pt appeared to have some kind of medical issue(head injury, maybe) according to workers, the ambulance company requested that sheriff gets the pt out of the car whatever it takes so that they could treat him for a medical condition...

BrianR 10 years ago

Wow, I make a random statement and y'all jump on it with all kinds of assumptions. You have talent, where the hell were you during the writers strike?

skinny 10 years ago

I agree with BladerunnerMariann:..You:are obviously:an idiot.

kansasredlegs 10 years ago

Doc1 - obviously you have never been a cop or even studied to be one. Medical cases are treated differently than a response to criminal activity. Police still must protect themselves but a certain level of compassion must be employed when dealing with a medical condition.How do I know he didn't pull a weapon? Two reasons.(1) 2-second jolt, 2-second jolt and finalized with a 4-second jolt. If armed and dangerous, no way the officers stand there for 8 seconds and just tase;(2) The threat with a lethal weapon would have been dealt with an escalation to lethal force by the cops. No cop is going to stand there in "Drive Stun" mode with a Taser if a combative subject is attacking them with a lethal weapon. Cops don't bring Tasers to a knife or gun fight, they bring even bigger, better more lethal devices.Whatever happened to good 'ole arm bar tactics, pressure points and just overwhelming physical restraint and pull his arse out to the vehicle and handcuff / hog-tie him and let medical personnel do their thing.The problem is only going to get worse as police departments continue to move from physical presence and force techniques to the electric cattle prod. Just wait, it won't be long for the first complaint of taser misuse because a nonaggressive, noncombative, civil disobedient citizen is tased simply for refusing to follow orders to disburse.I can see the green, legal settlement clouds forming over Lawrence, the incident in Topeka should be a wake call and mobilizing factor to our residents to demand the permanent holstering of the previously commissioned-approved cattle prods.Note: If Lawrence is self-insured regarding taser issues, the commissioners had better ratchet up the mil levy in next year's budget to fund the Taser Negligence Fund.Commissioners: You still have the authority to rescind the idiotic policy of Lawrence Police employing tasers. Get your heads out of the sand and pay attention.

lance1jhawk 10 years ago

Mariann... You are a Jackass and an awful, awful speller.

aginglady 10 years ago

BrianR (Anonymous) says: Wow, I make a random statement and y'all jump on it with all kinds of assumptions. You have talent, where the hell were you during the writers strike?_Them may hav talante, but them akturz wood hav a hek of a time pronunsing sum ov dat Inglesh ritin hear.And one for snap's amusement..bork, bork ,bork. :)

Baille 10 years ago

Tasers are being abused by police officers. That's a fact. So are guns. So are batons. So are a wide variety of tools used by police officers. That does not mean that those tools should not be used, but it does mean that when the tools are abused the ones abusing them need to take responsibility for the harm caused.That - more often than not - does not happen. What dumb--- thought it was a good idea to tase a man with a head injury I do not know. But neither can I explain the p.o. in the metro area who refused to take a pregnant lady to the hospital and she lost her baby or the four p.o.s in Topeka that decided to break up a late night party while drunk and off-duty and ended up shooting people. Hopefully whatever investigation that is done - whether internal or not - enough facts are released to ensure us all that the findings of that investigation are reliably supported by the facts

Steve Jacob 10 years ago

Not passing judgements, and we sure will know later, reports and lawyers ect. And I always give cops a break on this forum. But they tasered a guy with a head injury? Not just some random 20-something crack head, a 59 year old employee, who maybe worked there many years?

Potawatomi 10 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

volunteer 10 years ago

It is disconcerting that the police dept of Topeka called upon the Shawnee County sheriff dept (as opposed to the KBI) to investigate four off-duty Topeka policemen, not in uniform, who confronted an allegedly noisy neighbor. One of the cops shot the guy dead.Good thing Topeka is purchasing another up-to-date-with-bells-and-whistles police helicopter. Wouldn't want law and order to decline in Topeka.The city police and county sheriff departments share space in the old Montgomery Wards building on Kansas Avenue downtown...

TheYetiSpeaks 10 years ago

Regardless of the right and wrongs in this case by the officers:Tasers need to be recognized as a weapon that is capable of lethal force and the rules for their use needs to be the same as the rules for employing the use of firearms.

TheYetiSpeaks 10 years ago

"But they tasered a guy with a head injury? Not just some random 20-something crack head, a 59 year old employee, who maybe worked there many years?" Not just that but a veteran, Green Beret.

aginglady 10 years ago

I know a lot of Vietnam vets, and I'm not surprised there was some resistance of some kind. They wouldn't let someone pry the gun from their hands, and I'm sure they wouldn't let someone tell them what was best for them (other than a dr, and only if someone made them go, after all, like most men, they are all okay, even with pneumonia and a broken leg :D )...They certainly wouldn't give up their ride, unless falling down drunk.The cops need to recognize veteran age members of our society.How many now homeless vets deal with this same issue, knowing who they are and what they have been through, but kicked around because of those very same things.

aginglady 10 years ago

I can't, and yet can imagine how this family feels, learning later that this "event" happened, and even more their wait for the results.I lost a child, not knowing what exactly caused the death, but then a confession of circumstances finally came a year later. You go through the hell of not knowing and just the great loss, then find out people were lying for a year, trying to cover their own "body parts".

igby 10 years ago

Where was EMS, if the employee's thought he had a head injury? How did he get the head injury? Instead of cops with tasers he should of gotten medics. This went really bad somehow. The cop should of just let him go because he did not break any laws. However, the cop really did not know what exactly he was dealing with totally. It's just bad all the way around and judging the cop to be at fault for his death may be premature, but tasing someone who is injured is not a good idea. The head injury could of killed him, but the taser didn't help him for sure.

Jim Phillips 10 years ago

My, my, my! We have enough armchair quarterbacks here to start a football league! Let's not let the facts get in the way of a good story.

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