Fort Worth man dies after being shocked by police Taser

Posted Friday, May. 17, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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A 300-pound man who was subdued when he was hit by a Taser fired by a Fort Worth police officer during a drug raid Thursday died soon afterward, authorities and relatives said Friday.

Moments after police kicked open an unlocked door of a house in the 3200 block of Thannisch Avenue, they had Jermaine Darden, 34, facedown on the floor, said his mother, Donna Randle.

Police said an officer fired his Taser when Darden resisted arrest.

His mother said several people shouted at officers that Darden, who had asthma, was not resisting but was struggling to breathe.

“They were trying to lay him on his stomach, and he can’t breathe while he’s on his stomach,” Randle said. “He was trying to turn over so he could breathe. But they ignored us and Tased him.”

Darden was pronounced dead at 5:06 p.m. in the emergency room at John Peter Smith Hospital, the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office reported. The cause of death had not been determined late Friday.

Cliff Crippen said he saw paramedics perform CPR on Darden while he was on a gurney in the front yard.

“They were pounding on his chest and squeezing on an air bag,” said Crippen, 29, of Euless. “I saw his arm fall limp and a police officer place it back on his chest, and I thought to myself, ‘He’s dead.’

“They sat in the ambulance about 10 minutes before it moved. And then it rolled away, no lights, no sirens.”

The incident is being investigated by Fort Worth’s major-case unit, police said.

In a police report, Officer N.B. Danford wrote that he drafted a probable-cause warrant to search for cocaine at the house. The “no-knock” warrant was signed by Tarrant County Magistrate Cheyenne Minick at 3:35 p.m. Thursday, according to the report.

A copy of the warrant provided to the Star-Telegram by Darden’s relatives said a suspect might be concealing cocaine, materials used to package and prepare drugs for distribution, electronic and written records, cash and weapons.

Police reports list five people who were arrested:

• Jerome Orlando Cook, 25, suspected of possessing 1 to 4 grams of a controlled substance and 2 to 4 ounces of marijuana.

• Hunter Rutledge, 22, suspected of possessing less than 2 ounces of marijuana. Police also found that Rutledge was wanted on two warrants from other jurisdictions.

• Lonnie Turner, 27, accused of evading arrest and detention. Turner also had a warrant.

• Donald Raynell Virden, 29, and Brandy Matthews, 29, both with class C warrants from Fort Worth.

Matthews, who identified herself as Darden’s cousin, said she has an unpaid ticket for talking on a cellphone while driving in a school zone.

Randle said Darden weighed more than 300 pounds and was a chronic asthmatic who had trouble breathing. During an interview at the house, she pointed to a “breathing machine” and an ampul of a clear liquid she described as albuterol nitrate, which she said her son used often to help him breathe.

A police report listed items seized at the address: ammunition, a white powdery substance, a green leafy substance, capsules containing a brown substance, three telephones and a credit card.

“When they came in, they had their weapons drawn like we were members of a drug cartel,” Randle said. “There were six people who told the police the man had health problems, yet they continued to do what they did.

“I really want the police to tell me why they had to use such excessive force.”

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752 Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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