Patient dies after shot with Taser www.privateofficer.com
Kelly Brinson Sr. went into cardiac arrest Jan. 20. He was pronounced dead three days later.
Gene Ferrara, the chief of police at University of Cincinnati, said the incident was unfortunate and tragic.
The Hamilton County Coroner’s Office refused comment on the matter Tuesday, saying it is still under investigation.
If the use of a Taser is determined as the main cause of the death, it will be the first in Hamilton County, the coroner’s spokesman said Tuesday.
“Oh, my God, I cannot believe he is not coming back,” said Brenda Brinson, Kelly Brinson’s sister.
Brenda Brinson said she knew her brother needed help just after the new year. Diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic close to three decades ago, his sister said he told her he had been having bad dreams and overall bad feelings since the holidays. He was feeling suicidal.
Derek Brinson said his brother had been talking about the need to get his medications adjusted. Over the years he had mental setbacks and had been arrested on various charges, ranging from assault to disorderly conduct.
Even so, “He was gentle,” Derek Brinson said.
On Jan. 16, Kelly Brinson punched a wall and broke his right hand at his Mount Airy home. His hand and his ring and pinky finger were put into a cast that went up to his elbow.
Two days later, Kelly Brinson went to University Hospital and asked to be admitted to the psychiatric ward, his sister and brother said.
“I knew he was safe and I could rest my mind,” Brenda Brinson said.
The following evening, Brinson’s brother was on a ventilator.
Brenda Brinson said she was told emergency workers spent 19 minutes trying to revive her brother after he was stunned and he never regained consciousness.
The Brinsons said their brother was agitated because his cell phone, which also has a radio, had been taken away from him because he had lashed out at a fellow patient.
“He just wanted to listen to the radio,” Derek Brinson said.
Both Brinsons said their brother had calmed down but were told he became agitated again before being shocked. They were also told that he was given sedatives before he was shocked.
He said, “I’m done,” just before going into cardiac arrest, Brenda and Derek Brinson said hospital officials told them in a meeting that also involved police last week.
“He was dead Wednesday, I just know it,” Derek Brinson said. “They just kept him alive to try and cover this up.”
A University Hospital spokesman declined to be interviewed for this story and referred all questions to the police department.
Ferrara, the UC police chief, said officers made every possible attempt to calm Kelly Brinson before using the Taser.
Ferrara said Brinson was taken into a room and police planned to have him arrested on charges of assault on a police officer because he had swung at a security guard. At that point, Brinson became agitated again and other officers were called to help control him.
At least two officers had some sort of scuffle with Brinson when officer Mark Zacharias used his Taser. At least five university police officers were in the room and other witnesses at that point, Ferrara said.
Zacharias has been placed on paid administrative leave, which is common procedure, Ferrara said. Zacharias had been a security guard and about six months ago was promoted to police officer.
Ferrara said two officers received minor injuries.
Brenda Brinson said her 6-foot-2-inch, 200-pound brother had a large cut on his head when she saw him at the hospital.
Ferrara said the Taser hit Brinson in the upper leg and hip area. The officer tried using the weapon two more times, but Ferrara said a computer printout that tracks the Taser use through a chip suggest the device locked and only shocked Brinson once.
The Brinsons believe their brother also was hit twice with the Taser in the chest, something police officers have been warned to try to avoid doing since Taser International sent out an alert last fall advising police to avoid shocking suspects in the chest.
“We have pictures,” Brenda Brinson said.
Ferrara said his officers have been trained to try to avoid shocking a subject in the chest and that is why his officer shot at the hip.
Tasers have become common in police agencies across the country since the early 2000s.
They were touted as a substitute to a handgun or other weapons that can be deadly when used. The idea was that police could shock unruly suspects and the suspect would fall to the ground then be handcuffed and hauled away.
“Our intention was to prevent serious injury,” Ferrara said.
Amnesty International said Tuesday that more than 350 people have died after being shocked by a Taser or stun gun in the United States through 2008.
At one point the human rights watch group called for a moratorium on Tasers.
“There are simply too many of these deaths and injuries,” said Joshua Rubenstein, the Northeast regional Director of Amnesty International USA.
In 2007, a Golf Manor man died after being shocked. In that case the coroner’s ruled that the man died from a lethal reaction to cocaine and not the Taser.
A 26-year-old Miami University graduate died after being hit with a Taser by Oxford police in 2008. The Taser was not determined to be the only factor that contributed to the young man’s death; alcohol also played a part in his organs failing.
Since that case, Oxford police officers no longer carry Tasers. Only supervisors may carry the weapons.
Oxford police also can no longer use a Taser when a person is obviously inebriated, emotionally disturbed or has a noticeable mental or physical handicap. In addition, police may only shock a person involved in a violent crime.
More recently in Mason, a man died after falling and striking his head when he was shocked with a Taser in December. Butler County official said the cause of death was a skull fracture.
Amnesty’s figures on the 351 deaths are a culmination of all deaths after someone has been shocked regardless whether a coroner’s officer said drugs or a fall from being shocked caused the deaths and not just the Taser.
What matters most to Brenda and Derek Brinson is that hospital staff and police apparently didn’t try other means, such a straightjacket, to control their brother.
“That was his safe place,” Brenda Brinson said of the hospital.
Brenda Brinson said her brother has been seeking help at UC and other mental health agencies for 28 years.
“He went there for help,” Brenda Brinson said.