Archive for Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Leavenworth police issue report on man’s death

July 28, 2010

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— A preliminary autopsy report says a Lansing man who died while in police custody was under the influence of cocaine and had underlying health problems.

Forty-six-year-old Edward Stevenson died July 18 after Leavenworth police officers used Tasers on him three times when he became unruly in a police car. Officers eventually used physical force to subdue him.

Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens said the preliminary autopsy indicates that Stevenson had cocaine in his system when he died, and may have been under the influence of alcohol and opiates.

The Leavenworth Times reports that the autopsy also found that Stevenson had an enlarged heart and the altercation with police may have been secondary contributing factors in his death.

Comments

cheeseburger 4 years, 10 months ago

Well, our poor, innocent citizen wasn't quite as innocent as some of you must have believed. Sounds like he was bent on self-destruction anyway. If you play the 'game', you have to be prepared for any and all consequences associated with it.

monheim 4 years, 10 months ago

Clearly this guy was a danger to others. I'm guessing if they hadn't had their tasers he would've gotten some "stick time" which may have been just as detrimental to someone with a heart problem and who is coked up. It's unfortunate and tasers still make me uneasy for a number of reasons but it sounds like this case the guy probably did warrant 3 tasings.

lounger 4 years, 10 months ago

...Still the tazer hits pushed his heart in that direction. True he was loaded with bad heart drugs (coke) but the tazers threw it over the top and killed him.

Jim Phillips 4 years, 10 months ago

And your expertise in this area is based on...?

avoice 4 years, 10 months ago

It's acceptable to kill people who have cocaine in their systems and possibly alcohol and opiates (or just over-the-counter something that mimics such things), especially if they are the type of person who can become unruly with police. Yes, indeed, such people do not deserve to live.

kimk 4 years, 10 months ago

Could a story be written more one sided to take the responsibilty off the police officer that was clearly at fault for killing this individual? Come on, try writing a story that is neutral for once. Not one that makes Mr. Stevenson sound like a piece of **** and the cop sound like the hero that he is not.

Truthspeaker 4 years, 10 months ago

You’re right, I’m sure the story should be written as such. “An innocent Lansing man, who was suffering from the disease of drug addiction, was brutally tortured and electrocuted by Gestapo-esque Leavenworth police on a power trip. The victim was merely attempting to use his freedom of speech to protest his false imprisonment when the “police” unleashed a barrage of tasers, an act of brutality of the likes not seen in since concentration camps. According to some reports, the police laughed as the man died and refused to call for timely medical attention.”

Practicality 4 years, 10 months ago

LOL!

Nice post Truth. But I advise you not to waste your time trying to get these people to believe what they want to believe.

You see, to them, a coke head is the most rationale, decent, friendly person that exist in the community and a police officer doing their job is a parasite.

jaywalker 4 years, 10 months ago

Get a freakin grip, kimk. Five or six posts in and we've got this kind of idiocy? Mr. Stevenson was high on coke and going absolutely ape @#!! in the back of a cruiser. He would not calm down, was damaging the car and putting himself and the officers at risk. What should they have done? They went by the book. Period. They didn't kill him, his heart went kabloom because of HIS actions. And who taught you to read? Please cite the line that makes "the cop sound like the hero that he is not."

jonas_opines 4 years, 10 months ago

The other stories that came out around the original incident strongly suggested an underlying mental illness. Sometimes, the drugs cause the illness, but often it's the other way around, for those who's brains can't cut it without help, and have no easy resources for help.

Hard to appreciate for those without those problems.

Oh well, this is all we're gonna get.

Practicality 4 years, 10 months ago

" Sometimes, the drugs cause the illness, but often it's the other way around, for those who's brains can't cut it without help, and have no easy resources for help. "

No one needs drugs, people become addicted to drugs and then the drugs take over their life. But I do agree that prolonged drug use will cause mental illness. Just another reason (of many) to keep them illegal.

Truthspeaker 4 years, 10 months ago

Not just disparaging, but I'm sure the cops were in some way racist, as well.

meggers 4 years, 10 months ago

I still haven't seen any justification whatsoever for tasing a man three times at close range, when he was already in police custody. The fact that the guy was jacked up on coke doesn't explain that away. And what's with the "may have been under the influence of alcohol and opiates"? If the preliminary autopsy can determine that he had coke in his system, why can't it at least determine where or not he had alcohol? I realize that the opiates might require more rigorous testing, but can't the alcohol be detected with a simple blood test?

Were opiates and alcohol mentioned only to plant that seed in the public's mind, so that people will assume Stevenson was out of control enough to deserve his ultimate fate?

LJW, I presume Mr. Stevenson was handcuffed before he was placed in the back of the cruiser, but that was not specifically mentioned in either story. Can you clarify whether or not he was wearing handcuffs?

meggers 4 years, 10 months ago

If he was cuffed, I fail to see how he could have caused any real injury to himself or anyone else. If he was cuffed AND belted in, the opportunity would have been even futher diminished. I'm only requesting clarification, as any objective person might do when they read that a man in police custody, sitting in the back of a cruiser, was tased three times and died five minutes later.

And by the way, I'm not an anarchist or a druggie and I respect the job that the police do. That doesn't mean, however, that I'll blindly accept any story I'm spoon fed, especially when it reeks of excessive use of force.

But I suppose when someone has the critical thinking ability of a cheeseburger, it's difficult to wrap one's head around anything that might challenge their own narrow perceptions. I get it, in your view, the guy was on drugs and therefore the cops were justified in whatever they did. Somehow, I suspect you would be saying the same thing if they had brutally beaten him to death, rather than tasing him to death. THAT kind of thinking, my friend, is a condition of 'acting stupidly'.

Jim Phillips 4 years, 10 months ago

I can tell you from experience that, even though prisoners are handcuffed and belted into their seats, they can still unfasten their seatbelts and actually work their handcuffed hands to their fronts. I have seen people kick out the rear windows and windshields of police cars. They have even tried to smash windows out with repeated headbutts to the glass. Just because a prisoner is handcuffed does not by any stretch of the imagination mean he is necessarily under control.

I have also had to subdue people who were under the influence of drugs like cocaine (one even jumped through plate glass window). I sometimes think riding a bull for eight seconds would be easier. At least you know eight seconds is all you have to ride. Not so with someone who has no rationality and a very high pain tolerance.

meggers 4 years, 10 months ago

Thank you for sharing your perspective. I have something of an idea of what you mean by people being completely out of control, as I've had some experience working with individuals with significant mental health challenges- irrational violence is extremely difficult to work with. In fact, I've seen situations where the police have had to be called, because there was really no safe alternative.

In this situation, I think it would just be helpful to have more information- whether or not the prisoner was actually arrested and cuffed, what exactly he was doing to prompt the use of a taser, whether or not the second and third shot with the taser were necessary, etc.

The police may have been perfectly justified in their use of the taser guns, but that hasn't really been clear thus far from what has been reported. I'm also still unclear why the preliminary autopsy was not definitive about whether or not alcohol was present. I don't understand why alcohol and opiates were even mentioned, despite the fact that they were apparently not found to be present in the preliminary autopsy. For that matter, having cocaine in his system does not necessarily mean that he was under the infuence when the incident occurred- although I admit it's likely.

Again, thank you for your thoughtful response.

meggers 4 years, 10 months ago

I did read Guardian's post and in case you missed it, I agreed that some individuals are extremely difficult to subdue.

I now have a better understanding of what MIGHT have occurred, however that scenario has not been reported. 'Unruly' is a word that to me, better describes someone shouting obscenities at the police, rather than someone that poses an imminent threat. If he was tased without posing an imminent threat to himself or others, it is indeed excessive force. Maybe my words were a little bit harsh, so I'll just rephrase it to say that given the information that was reported, the death raises suspicions of excessive force.

And never once did I say or imply that I could have handled the situation better. In fact, I'll readily admit that I likely could not have. That doesn't change the fact that it is expected that those who ARE trained to handle such situations do so with professionalism and integrity. It's possible and even probable that the police acted appropriately in this situation, however given the information we've been provided, some questions remain.

If you're perfectly satisfied with what little has been reported, good for you. But to continually insult me for asking a few basic questions speaks more to YOUR rush to judgment than to mine.

Practicality 4 years, 10 months ago

You must be right Babboy,

Because it is such a far streatch of the imagination to possibly conceive that a coke addict could act in a manner that was

A) Unlawful and would require police intervention

And/Or

B) Be combative or non-compliant with Police commands

Surely the Police are in the wrong though, because that fits nicely with your ill-conceived world view.

emaw 4 years, 10 months ago

To all of those bashing this guy as a out of control coke addict that deserved his fate....haven't we had a couple high ranking, escuse me, I mean the highest ranking politicians in the last 10 years both admit to cocaine use? smells of hypocrisy in here! The guy was in the back of a car handcuffed! He also was 46 years old! If the Leavenworth PD can't handle a handcuffed 46 year old already in the back of their cruisers...can they really protect and serve the public? I'm sure this guy was out of control and unruly but come on, tasing him 3 times? REALLY?

jaywalker 4 years, 10 months ago

Go on a ride-along, emaw. Might give you a better perspective.

independant1 4 years, 9 months ago

Nope - just slap him upside the head with your pistol and and let it go off at same tiime. He'll think he's dead and settle down.

Practicality 4 years, 10 months ago

Here is a little better news article concerning the incident. Even though I believe this will not suffice to quiet the Police naysers.

From yesterdays Leavenworth Times.

Police release preliminary autopsy results in death investigation

By John Richmeier GateHouse News Service Posted Jul 27, 2010 @ 04:58 PM Leavenworth, Kan. — The Leavenworth police have released preliminary autopsy results in the case of a man who died in their custody.

Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens said the preliminary results indicate Edward Stevenson died July 18 as a result of a condition called excited delirium, which was due to cocaine intoxication. Kitchens said the results cite an enlarged heart and an altercation during an attempted police restraint as secondary contributing factors.

Stevenson, 46, Lansing, died after he reportedly became combative with police officers in downtown Leavenworth. He was Tasered three times as officers attempted to subdue him. Officers ultimately used physical force to restrain him, according to Kitchens.

Stevenson was placed on a gurney and Leavenworth County EMS personnel began to treat him. He then suffered what Kitchens has described as “severe medical issues.”

Stevenson later was pronounced dead at the hospital.

In addition to cocaine, it’s believed Stevenson may have been under the influence of alcohol and opiates, according to Kitchens.

An autopsy was performed last week by Dr. Michael Handler. Kitchens said the police asked the doctor for permission to release the preliminary results given the sensitivity of the case.

“There’s been al a lot of conversation in the community about this case,” Kitchens said.

In addition to an investigation of the incident, which is being overseen by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Leavenworth police officials are reviewing the matter from a policy standpoint.

Kitchens said he’s looking at whether the use of force during the incident was appropriate and whether the Police Department needs a specific policy about how to deal with someone exhibiting symptoms associated with excited delirium.

“I haven’t made any decisions yet,” Kitchens said.

He said excited delirium symptoms include confusion, disorientation, bizarre or violent behavior, extreme aggression, exceptional physical strength and a high pain threshold.

Kitchens also said the Taser guns used during the July 18 incident will be sent to the manufacturer to determine if they’re performing adequately.

He said Leavenworth police officers have been using Taser guns for five years.

Copyright 2010 Leavenworth Times. Some rights reserved

http://www.leavenworthtimes.com/highlight/x1123438195/Police-release-preliminary-autopsy-results-in-death-investigation

Practicality 4 years, 10 months ago

It seems as if the tasing didn't occur in the back of a squad car.

It seems that the incident is being investigated by an outside agency.

It seems that an internal review of their use of force policy is being conducted by the Leavenworth Police Department.

It seems that the tasers are being inspected for any defects.

Which all appear to be approriate responses due to the severity of the outcome.

Maybe, just maybe, the Leavenworth Police aren't the boogey men/women you naysayers are making them out to be? Could that be possible?

pace 4 years, 10 months ago

To assume that someone who objects to tazering a man three time is a cop hater, is plain stupid. Many people who are in custody are loaded and unruly, that is probably why the police have them in custody. Of course there were underlying health problems that helped explain his death from tazering. A lot of people who aren't on coke would be killed by tazering if their heart was faulty. There is no reason to believe that people who are wary of the tazers ability to kill are cop haters. that is not just stupid but silly. Tazers aren't the benign peace makers the manufacturers would have us believe. Some of the pr makes it look like fun. Would it be justified to shoot the man who was kicking the heck out of the inside of the door. It might be, but lethal force is just that, force that causes death.

Jim Phillips 4 years, 10 months ago

One of my associates has had at least two heart attacks. He also happens to be a Tazer instructor. He takes a five second jolt with every class he conducts. As of two weeks ago when I last spoke to him he was fine. He even got a free Tazer for taking a hit with a full charge for ten seconds. Oh, his heart attacks came before he was a Tazer instructor.

Practicality 4 years, 10 months ago

So if a police officer was putting handcuffs on you because you were being arrested, and you died of a heart attack, then the police used lethal force on you? Is that your conclusion?

Officially, a taser is considered non-lethal force. A firearm is considered lethal force.

So, the police used non-lethal force to try and control a situation and the end result was the arrestee dies. Therefore, in your logic, the police are at fault.

It couldn't possible be that the arrestee had a bad heart from a lifetime of drug abuse and was unable to deal with the resulting physical exertion that his behavior caused though, right?

independant1 4 years, 9 months ago

I always put on my Don't Taze Me Bro bracelet before going out on the town. An ounce of prevention.......

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