Saturday, May 21, 2005

Man Stunned With TASER Dies; Victim Fought With Officers

By Jeff Proctor, Journal Staff Writer

An Albuquerque man who was stunned multiple times with a TASER during an altercation with police died Friday at University of New Mexico Hospital.
Randy Martinez, 40, died about 2:45 p.m., hospital spokeswoman Cindy Foster said.
It's the second TASER-related death in the state, following one that occurred in March 2003.
Police suspect Martinez was under the influence of drugs or may have had a pre-existing medical condition, APD spokeswoman Trish Ahrensfield said. But a cause of death has yet to be determined.
"We're awaiting the results of toxicology and autopsy reports, and we've done a thorough investigation," Ahrensfield said. "We'll submit it to the DA's office, and they will say if we have done anything wrong."
Police were summoned about 8 p.m. Wednesday by Martinez's mother, who said her son was out of control at her 1709 53rd NW home.
Martinez became combative with police, Ahrensfield said. One of the responding officers shot him with a gun-like TASER, which shoots two quarter-inch darts that send 26 watts of electricity into a person.
A TASER shock typically renders a subject helpless. But Martinez pulled the darts from his body and continued to fight with police. He was stunned again and eventually fell unconscious.
APD started using TASERs in the early 1990s and has about 550 of the devices. Most patrol officers carry them.
The March 2003 death occurred when Albuquerque police used a TASER gun and pepper spray on a combative vandalism suspect.
According to a report by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 69 people nationwide have died after being shot by a TASER between 2000 and 2004.

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