Death of Florida man after police used Taser deemed homicide

Reuters News
Posted: May 15, 2015 4:03 PM

By Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI (Reuters) - The death of an unarmed black man who died two days after South Florida police officers shocked him with a Taser device has been ruled a homicide, according to the local medical examiner.

Calvon Reid, 39, died in February following a late-night incident in which he displayed threatening and violent behavior outside his Fort Lauderdale-area apartment complex, according to police.

Jarrett Blakeley, a lawyer for Reid’s family, blamed the death on use of excessive force by police.

"He was tased by at least three different Taser devices by three different police officers including twice in the chest,” Blakeley said.

Reid was rushed to a hospital, where he died on Feb. 24.

The incident is among a growing list of deaths in the United States attributed by victims' families to excessive force and racial profiling of black men by police in New York; Ferguson, Missouri; Cleveland and elsewhere.

Reid's parents, Calvin and Mamie, believe racial profiling influenced police treatment of their son, a meat salesman.

"If he had been a white person in a gated community we don't think he'd have been treated that way," Mamie Reid said in a phone interview.

The Broward County medical examiner's report, which the family received on Friday, attributed Reid's injury to an "electro-muscular disruption device," or Taser. It said recent cocaine use and alcohol were "significant conditions contributing to death," but not the "underlying cause."

Four police officers, under investigation in the incident, have been removed from road patrol, according to the Sun Sentinel newspaper.

Interim Coconut Creek Police Chief Greg Lees said the medical examiner's definition of homicide may not be the same as in a criminal investigation.

He added: "The public will get a better understanding of the entire case, which includes all of the eyewitnesses' testimony, when the State Attorney's Office completes their investigation."

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Police waited 10 days before releasing details of the incident, saying in a statement that responding officers saw Reid in a "combative state" with numerous cuts on his body.

Officers tased Reid after "he exhibited threatening behavior" and refused to comply with orders, the statement added.

It did not say how many times Reid was tased.

In sworn affidavits, neighbors gave a different version.

"He didn't have anything in his hands and he didn't seem upset or agitated," said one witness, Perry Weiss, according to court documents.

(Reporting by Zachary Fagenson; Additional reporting by Letitia Stein Writing by David Adams; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Eric Beech)