Lawyer: Deputies used stun guns excessively on man who died

AP News
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Posted: Mar 18, 2016 9:35 AM

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia deputies used their stun guns excessively in a confrontation with a Florida man who later died, an attorney said Thursday, citing police records that show how many times the weapons were used, and for how long.

However, it's not clear from the records how many times either stun gun made contact with the body of 32-year-old Chase Sherman of Destin, Florida.

Coweta County Sheriff's Office records from Sherman's Nov. 20 death show one deputy's stun gun was used nine times in a 2-½-minute span for a total of 47 seconds, including one use that lasted 17 seconds. The other deputy's stun gun was used six times in just over four minutes for a total of 29 seconds.

Attorney Chris Stewart says the records show the deputies used the stun guns too many times on a handcuffed man.

Nathan Lee, an attorney for the sheriff's office, said the family has threatened litigation and the sheriff's office doesn't comment on pending or threatened litigation.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation handled the case and has turned over its investigative file to Coweta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Peter Skandalakis, who said he received the file, including video from body cameras and a dash cam, on Feb. 5 and is still reviewing it.

A few days after the confrontation, the GBI released a recording of a 911 call made just after 9 p.m. Nov. 20 by Chase Sherman's mother. She told the dispatcher she was in a car with her husband, her son and the son's girlfriend on southbound Interstate 85. She said her son was "freaking out" and had taken a synthetic drug known as spice.

In reports filed after the confrontation, two deputies who responded wrote that Sherman resisted as they tried to subdue him and repeatedly ignored orders to stop fighting. Sherman, who was handcuffed and still in the back of the rental car, struggled with both deputies over their stun guns, the reports say.

An emergency medical technician helped the deputies subdue Sherman by placing his knee on Sherman's back while Sherman was still in the car lying on his stomach, one of the reports says. Sherman became quiet, and they realized he wasn't breathing and didn't have a pulse. Paramedics began CPR, and he was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

His death certificate lists his death as a homicide and lists the cause as "sudden death during an altercation with law enforcement with several trigger pulls of an electronic control device, prone positioning on the floor of a motor vehicle and compression of the torso by the body weight of another individual."

"They need to pay for their crime," Sherman's father, Kevin Sherman, said of the deputies. "Get them off the force, in prison, whatever. We'll never get our son back."