No charges against Virginia police for using stun guns on man who later died

Reuters News
Posted: May 03, 2016 5:04 PM

(Reuters) - A Virginia prosecutor declined on Tuesday to seek criminal charges against police officers who used stun guns repeatedly on a black man in 2013 before he died.

Halifax County Commonwealth's Attorney Tracy Quackenbush Martin said no evidence showed the death of Linwood Lambert Jr., 46, was caused by the stun guns or that the officers were criminally negligent when they did not follow through on taking him into a hospital.

"I find there is no good faith basis to believe any

violation of state criminal law applies to the facts of this case and, therefore, I decline to seek criminal charges against the officers," she wrote in a 76-page report.

A medical examiner has concluded that Lambert likely would have died from "cocaine-induced excited delirium" even without being shocked, she said.

Martin's report comes amid a U.S. debate on law enforcement treatment of minorities after the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police in Missouri, Ohio, New York and elsewhere since 2014.

Lambert's family filed a $25 million wrongful death lawsuit

in U.S. District Court in April 2015 against the officers, the police chief, the deputy chief and the town of South Boston, Virginia.

Lawyers for the family were not immediately available to comment.

The incident took place after three South Boston police officers arrested Lambert on a noise complaint. They took him to the Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital for an evaluation.

Martin's report said Lambert kicked out a police cruiser window, ran to the emergency room doors and crashed into them with his hands cuffed behind his back.

The officers then shocked Lambert with their Tasers while he was on the ground. They put him in a police car where he was shocked again when he raised his feet toward a window and then when he failed to sit up.

He was taken to jail and then found unresponsive. An emergency team tried to revive him and took him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Martin's report said the Tasers were triggered a total of 20 times.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Peter Cooney)