KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 34-year-old man died after Kansas City, Kansas, police used a stun gun to subdue him in a parking lot, where authorities said the man had been acting strangely.
Police said officers were called to the parking lot of a Family Dollar store Wednesday afternoon after city workers saw the man "running around the parking lot, laying on the ground ... that type of thing," Officer Patrick McCallop said Thursday.
Randall C. Torrence of Kansas City, Kansas, became combative when paramedics tried to treat him, and an officer shocked him twice with a stun gun, police said. Torrence was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
Police Chief Terry Zeigler told The Associated Press on Thursday it appeared that Torrence was likely under the influence of drugs.
It was unclear if Torrence lost consciousness immediately after the stun gun was used on him, Zeigler said. An autopsy and toxicology tests were being performed to determine the cause of death.
Torrence's mother Barbara Torrence, 63, of Kansas City, Kansas, described him as a "kind, good-hearted kid," who had been trying to turn his life around. She said as far as she knew, he had not been using drugs lately. She said he was "perfectly normal" when she saw him Monday night.
"As I've said before, I wasn't there so I don't know what happened," she said Thursday evening. "But now, no matter what happens, there has to be some different ways to take people into custody without tasing them to the point they lose their life."
The case is being investigated by the department, but so far, there is no evidence the department's policy on stun guns was violated, Zeigler said. He said the policy allows for using a stun gun as an intermediate step when people become aggressive.
Zeigler also said stun gun usage in the department had declined from 58 times in 2012, to 40 in 2013 and 42 in 2014. The figures for 2015 weren't yet available, he said.
Steve Tuttle, spokesman for Scottsdale, Arizona-based Taser, said Thursday that Tasers — which are the type of stun guns the department uses — typically would incapacitate a person for a matter of seconds.
Over about two decades of use, there have been six instances in which a Taser has been listed as a cause of death, Tuttle said. Taser-related deaths commonly involve people who have overdosed on drugs or who have pre-existing medical conditions, he said.