Archive for Thursday, April 10, 2008

Deputies in Taser death placed on leave with pay

April 10, 2008


Coroner says Taser didn't kill man

A Lawrence man who died after a run-in with law enforcement was not killed by use of a Taser stun gun. Enlarge video

— Two Shawnee County sheriff's deputies have been placed on administrative leave in connection with the death of a Lawrence man who was stunned three times with a Taser and handcuffed after authorities said he refused to get out of his vehicle to receive medical help.

Sheriff Richard Barta has declined to identify the deputies involved in the incident, but said he has requested that the Kansas Bureau of Investigation "conduct a death investigation."

Walter Edward Haake Jr., 59, was an employee at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. plant.

After work on March 29, the sheriff's office was called to try to stop Haake from driving away because he had been acting disoriented, possibly from a head injury, officials said.

But Haake refused to leave his vehicle, authorities said. Officers took his keys away and then stunned him with a Taser three times, authorities said.

When he got out of his car, there was "a brief physical confrontation" and Haake was handcuffed, according to authorities. He then collapsed and was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

On Tuesday, the Shawnee County Coroner's Office ruled the death accidental.

Haake had a history of heart disease and diabetes, Coroner Erik Mitchell said in a press release.

"Mr. Haake died while held face down on the ground and as handcuffs were applied," Mitchell said.

"The cause of death is of cardiac nature with contribution by compression of the torso. Consequently, this is an accidental death," he said. Mitchell declined to provide any information aside from what was contained in the news release.

Friends of Haake said the deputies should not have used force to try to get him out of his vehicle since he was suffering from some kind of injury or illness and the deputies had already prevented him from being a public danger by taking away his car keys.

The two sheriff's deputies were placed on administrative leave with pay. In a news release, the sheriff's office said it wouldn't provide any further information "to protect the integrity of this investigation."

The Haake family has declined to comment on the incident.


Evan Ridenour 10 years, 2 months ago

I wanted to add that this is the reason why cops shouldn't be allowed to carry tasers. They should only use them when lethel force is the alternative and the taser can be used instead safely. But this will never happen, news report after news report shows officers abusing it to control people in non-violent circumstances. It is a violation of peoples civil rights and in this case it killed someone (as it has in other cases).It should NEVER, EVER be okay to taser people who aren't presenting a serious threat to the officers safety (or others). This man could barely move, how does hitting him with a taser make any sense?

HootyWho 10 years, 2 months ago

He was refusing treatment, had no keys, and according to the coronor, was dying, Why didn't the cops just wait for him to pass out, then load him up and give treatment. They didn't need to taze him.

LogicMan 10 years, 2 months ago

"Smitty I have been getting those errors."Likely that the LJW server/connection has been overwhelmed with basketball-fan surfers. Should clear up in a few days.

Evan Ridenour 10 years, 2 months ago

The family has great cause for a wrongful death suit.Although that doesn't make up for the loss of his life...

Lindsey Buscher 10 years, 2 months ago

"A person has the legal right to refuse medical service, and forcing a person to receive medical service is complete BS."Actually, forcing him to seek medical attention is a function of the inherent police power; when a person is deemed to be a danger to himself or others, then forcing him to seek medical attention is necessary. Especially when you pair "acting disoriented, possibly from a head injury" with "diabetes"--many diabetics aren't even allowed to drive because of this sort of thing.Did anyone see that video of the semi-truck hopping a median, going off a bridge, and exploding--that story is about 1-2 weeks old, but I believe the driver was also diabetic and was passed out just before the accident.

Keith 10 years, 2 months ago

Yesterday the article stated the death was not due to the Taser, yet today the headline reads "Taser death". No sensationalism at the Journal-World, right?

erod0723 10 years, 2 months ago

This is murder, plain and simple. A person has the legal right to refuse medical service, and forcing a person to receive medical service is complete BS. Put the cops involved on trial.

Evan Ridenour 10 years, 2 months ago

There was no reason to tase and then cuff a person who was sick for not doing what the officers said. Of course he wasn't following their directions, he was dying!What kind of idiot tasers and roughly cuffs a dying man!?

May Soo 10 years, 2 months ago

This is sad and scary. I bet he would have been alive if the LE didn't tase him. It's sad how the LE never held responsible for something like this.

HW 10 years, 2 months ago

I'm not getting site errors, but explorer keeps shutting down on me when I am on ljw. Been happening for a few days now.

newsreader 10 years, 2 months ago

Didn't even read the story... just wanted to say I wish my job would put me on leave with pay.... :)

jafs 10 years, 2 months ago

If the officers' actions affected his heatlh negatively, which may very well be the case - "compression of the torso" was probably caused by throwing him to the ground and handcuffing him - they should be held accountable.By all reports so far, he was no danger to himself or others, and should have been treated more gently and helpfully.

mistygreen 10 years, 2 months ago

I love the change from the original story from the victim being "confrontational" to "a brief physical confrontation" cover up here.

Buggie7 10 years, 2 months ago

Holy crap there was no physical confrontation!!!.. he was sitting in his car with both hands on the steering wheel. The first response team at gy were the ones who got his keys from him before the others even showed up. He was not confrontational at all. What a crock and "accidental death" All that deputy wanted to do was to go back to her driving and not be bothered. There was no accident they knew what they were doing they just werent smart enough to assess the situation first. Leave with pay is a waste of taxpayers money and I hope that this family is taken care of for the rest of their lives and the officers lose their jobs and have to live with their "accident" for the rest of theirs.

Buggie7 10 years, 2 months ago

Smitty I have been getting those errors. You are right the cover ups arent going to change.They will leave these officers on their "paid vacations" until things cool down and the public forgets about it or moves on then they will go back to work and insurance will handle a settlement. Its a crock but hey wouldnt it be nice to be able to have a public say on who the sherriffs dept and the police dept hire. It would be almost impossible but nice to know the personality profiles and the education, training and certificates. This is a total cover up or LJWorlds reporting still sucks because most of the information in the article is wronggggggg.

Bladerunner 10 years, 2 months ago

Frwent and Smitty seem to be paranoid anti establishment types. Browsing thru their previous posts...they don't seem to ever have anything good to say about anything. A true testament to their credability. How sad.

thebigspoon 10 years, 2 months ago

The errors are apparently widespread. If you log on to Mozilla Firefox the errors do not manifest. Just a thought.

BrianR 10 years, 2 months ago

Try deleting Adobe Flash and reinstalling it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 2 months ago

I'm on a mac, and the JW site causes both Safari and Firefox, latest versions, to crash repeatedly. No other site does this.

Jim Phillips 10 years, 2 months ago

erod0723--"MURDER?" There is a new thing called a dictionary. A dictionary provides one with a phonetic pronunciation and a definition of words. Try learning the definition of a word before using it.

Jim Phillips 10 years, 2 months ago

its_getting_warmer--Actually, Pudgy is correct. It's called protective custody.

doc1 10 years, 2 months ago

According to a friend working at Goodyear the guy grabbed the deputy after the deputy had his keys. So if a guy grabs a deputy and struggles to get his keys back the deputy is supposed to run away. I think not!!! Haake may not have been of right mind at the time but him starting the altercation with the deputy is his fault. I wish the full story was reported. The Deputies did exactly what they were trained for.

Jim Phillips 10 years, 2 months ago

doc1,You and I are wasting our time. We don't have near the education and training as all of these out-of-work lawyers and doctors. Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story. Most of these people hate cops with a passion. You see it in every thread they post on that has anything to do with law enforcement. I guess they were out-of-work cop wannabees before they became out-of-work lawyers and doctors.

Jim Phillips 10 years, 2 months ago

smitty,I quite sure there was a delay before the officers wrote their reports. This would have been a homicide investigation which means the cops would have been advised of their Miranda Rights, specifically a right to remain silent and a right to talk to an attorney before questioning---or writing a police report. I see no problem with anyting you've mentioned here over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over...

BlackVelvet 10 years, 2 months ago

Smitty wrote: .".....Police reports from the involved officers were not filed until after they ALL consulted with an attorney"Gee Smitty, cops shouldn't have rights like everyone else does? Why is that?

Fred Whitehead Jr. 10 years, 2 months ago

Plain and simple. There are some street thugs and bullies with a badge. Most police officers are professional and do their jobs according to the law and policy. But there are some street thugs and bullies on the force. Right here in Lawrence. I would assume it is safe to say that there are similar individuals carrying a badge in Topeka. And you cannot get through the wall, whatever color it is, to get them off the street. There is a systemic and ingrained evil that says the "internal affairs unit" will cover the butts of the thugs and make the lives of the truly competant officers miserable. It is virtually impossible to do anything about it, the attorney general's web site disassociates themselves with local law enforcement issues, the office ot the governer will not take any action on local law enforcement and the city government, well there is not a more disinterested and dysfunctional collection of individuals when it comes to geting through the "wall" than the Lawrence City Commission. Federal violations....., well forget it. Congressman Moore's office is similarly impotent to assist. Although I am not familiar with the government situation in Topeka, I can only assume that a similar situation exists and that this horrible event will eventually disappear and that the bullies will stil have the tazers and will eventually kill some more unfortuante individuals. Inertia is a tough nut to crack and this event is clear evidence of that fact.

Jim Phillips 10 years, 2 months ago

frwent (Anonymous) says: "Plain and simple. There are some street thugs and bullies with a badge. .... But there are some street thugs and bullies on the force. Right here in Lawrence." OK, frwent, I'll wait while you provide the names of those officers and/or specific incidents.

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