Man tased during Altoona incident with law enforcement dies

·4 min read

Oct. 26—ALTOONA — A 43-year-old man who was in critical condition after being shocked with a Taser multiple times in an Oct. 8 incident with local law enforcement died Friday at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, the Wisconsin Department of Justice said in a press release.

Based on provisional autopsy results, the cause of Demetrio A. Jackson's death "doesn't appear to be from traumatic injuries and is still pending laboratory analysis at this time," the DOJ said in a press release Tuesday.

The DOJ's Division of Criminal Investigation is currently investigating the incident.

On Oct. 8 at 3:28 a.m., Altoona police officers and the Eau Claire County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of a person acting strangely and causing damage while standing on top of a vehicle in the 900 block of Harlem Street in the city of Altoona, Eau Claire Chief of Police Matt Rokus said in an Eau Claire Police Department press release. The caller was the owner of the vehicle Jackson was standing on, the Altoona Police Department said.

Officers were concerned Jackson was under the influence of narcotics, spoke with him for 45 minutes and offered to call him an ambulance, the Altoona Police Department said. The DOJ said that officers then attempted to take Jackson into custody for a probation violation, but that Jackson was "resistive and combative."

Jackson began running from the officers, but when given an order to stop, he turned and ran toward an officer, who then used the Taser on him, the Altoona Police Department said. Jackson continued to resist arrest and officers shocked him a second and third time.

"Officers applied several force intervention options, including verbalization and a Taser in an attempt to stabilize the situation," the DOJ said in the release.

At 4:20 a.m., three ECPD officers responded to the scene after Altoona officers called for emergency assistance.

When the Eau Claire officers arrived, they saw Jackson "screaming, and writhing on the ground"; Jackson did not appear to comprehend any officer commands, Rokus said.

The involved officers requested emergency medical services, according to the DOJ, and both the Altoona and Eau Claire fire departments responded.

Rokus said the Eau Claire officers "coordinated with other law enforcement on scene to safely take Jackson into custody."

Rokus said in the ECPD release: "Officers worked together to calm Jackson and to ensure Jackson was handcuffed without injuring himself. During the interaction Jackson complained that he was having difficulty breathing, and officers ensured no pressure was applied to Jackson's head, neck or chest during the interaction that would impede his breathing. At all times Jackson remained conscious and was placed in a recovery position until EMS could safely approach."

EMS gave Jackson emergency medical treatment and transported Jackson to a local hospital.

Jackson died at the hospital on Friday.

The DOJ listed the officers involved in the incident as officers Kim Schuch and Leah Wolff of the Altoona Police Department; Gracia Larson, Robert Schreier and Michael Cullen of the ECPD; and Eau Claire County sheriff's deputies Joseph Wollum and Jacob Pake.

No other people were injured in the incident, the DOJ said. The Wisconsin State Patrol also responded to the scene.

The Eau Claire Police Department's mobile video recording systems recorded the Eau Claire officers' involvement in the incident, and the department is publishing the video and audio footage "considerate of sensitivity to Mr. Jackson's family and the community we serve," Rokus said.

The 18 minutes of footage can be viewed at youtube.com/watch?v=90P0X95_V1w.

The Altoona Police Department said in a Tuesday press release that it has body camera video footage of the incident and will release it shortly.

The DCI is leading an investigation, as is typical in officer-involved incidents, and the agency plans to turn over its investigative reports to the Eau Claire County District Attorney's office when it concludes. The DOJ said all officers involved in the incident are fully cooperating.

Rokus said the department offered condolences to Jackson's friends and family.

The ECPD is currently conducting an internal administrative review of its own involvement in the incident, Rokus said, adding: "We understand our community will have additional questions about this incident. Once the investigation is completed it will be evaluated and made available for community review."