An Arlington County man who was apparently in psychiatric distress died
early Friday after a police officer used a Taser in an attempt to
subdue him, police said.
It was the second death in an incident involving a Taser in the county this year.
Lt. William Griffith, an Arlington police spokesman, said officers
and medics were called to an apartment building in the 5500 block of
Columbia Pike about 12:30 a.m. for a "psychiatric emergency."
They found a man who was "unclothed and uncooperative. . . . He
refused all verbal commands and was combative with the officers
attempting to assist him," Griffith said.
A few minutes after an officer deployed a Taser device to try and
bring the man under control, Griffith said, police saw that the man did
not appear to be breathing. Medics began trying to resuscitate him and
took him to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The man's name and age were not immediately available. Police said
he did not live in the apartment but was visiting family there. It was
a relative who called police after the man became distressed, Griffith
Both the internal affairs division and the homicide/robbery division
are investigating the incident, Griffith said. Detectives remained at
the scene of the apartment for several hours overnight, taking
photographs and collecting evidence.
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The officer who deployed the Taser remains on active duty but could
be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the
investigation if the man's death is determined to have been caused by
The incident was the fourth time this year that Arlington police
have deployed Tasers, which administer an electric jolt and are
designed to be safer than firearms. Two of those confrontations did not
involve death or injury, Griffith said.
But on Jan. 17, a 36-year-old District man died after being Tasered
during a confrontation with police on the Pentagon City Metro platform.
William R. Bumbrey III allegedly became aggressive when an officer
approached him on the Metro platform to question him about a recent
theft from a nearby pharmacy, police said. After the officer used his
Taser, Bumbrey continued to struggle, police said at the time, but
eventually was restrained and handcuffed.
Soon after, officers saw that Bumbrey was in medical distress. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.
At the time, Detective Crystal Nosal, a county police spokeswoman, said
Tasers have been in the department's arsenal since 2004. Nosal said
police officers receive special training on use of the devices. Tasers
are used in the county, on average, fewer than 20 times each year.