Two in law enforcement no-billed in separate fatal incidents

03/17/2014 8:32 PM

03/17/2014 8:33 PM

Tarrant County grand jurors declined to indict two peace officers over the past week in connection with two unrelated fatal incidents.

On Monday, grand jurors no-billed Chris Salone, a deputy constable who shot 42-year-old Scott Holland, a man who authorities said reached for a gun while Salone was helping serve a warrant in August at an apartment complex in the 2200 block of Taxco Road.

On Friday, the grand jury no-billed a Fort Worth police officer who shocked Jermaine N. Darden, 34, with a Taser in May during a drug raid at a residence in the 3200 block of Thannisch Avenue.

Darden, who suffered from cardiovascular disease and weighed 340 pounds, was pronounced dead at a local hospital, according to authorities. Police have said Darden resisted arrest after officers kicked open an unlocked door of a house that police suspected was being used to sell drugs.

Authorities have not released the names of the officers investigated in connection with Darden’s death. Darden’s mother previously told the Star-Telegram that her son had asthma and was not resisting arrest but rather struggling to breathe after officers put him facedown on the floor. She said several people in the house were trying to tell the officers about Darden’s health problem.

She said officers used excessive force.

“I’m not saying that my brother was a saint,” said Eric Darden, Jermaine Darden’s brother. “But in a situation where police have everything under control, no one should come out of that situation dead. When something like this happens everyone should be able to walk away and have their day in court. I’m trying to understand what led them to that house in the first place.”

The medical examiner’s office ruled Darden’s cause of death as “sudden cardiac death” due to heart disease and “application of restraint,” which refers to Darden’s hands being handcuffed behind him, according to a spokeswoman with the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office. But forensic pathologists concluded that being handcuffed had no impact on Darden’s death, and that he could have died of heart disease even if he’d not been restrained, the spokeswoman said.

Police had a “no-knock” warrant to search the house. It indicates that they were looking for concealed cocaine, materials used to package and prepare drugs for distribution, electronic and written records, as well as cash and weapons.

Taser used

According to the autopsy report, officers used the Taser on Darden twice — for five seconds each time — after he failed to comply with instructions during the execution of the search warrant.

A team of forensic pathologists reviewed the case, including video that showed Darden being stunned with the Taser and continuing to struggle.

While in the back of a police car, Darden told authorities that he had asthma and was feeling short of breath. He later became unresponsive, and resuscitation efforts were begun, the report stated. Toxicology tests determined that Darden had a synthetic cannabinoid in his system.

The other no-bill decision was in connection with the death of Scott Holland. Salone was assisting an unidentified investigator from the Texas attorney general’s office with serving a warrant for unpaid child support when he was confronted by Holland, who pulled a 9 mm handgun from his pants, according to authorities.

Police recovered a gun with a bullet in the chamber. The law enforcement personnel who were present at the time of the fatal shooting reported no injuries to law enforcement officials.

This report includes material from Star-Telegram archives.

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