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Trial in Taser death not expected anytime soon

LAWRENCEVILLE - A wrongful death case involving a Lawrenceville man who died more than two years ago in the county's custody is at a standstill, at least for now.

Frederick Williams, 31, died May 27, 2004, following an incident with Gwinnett County deputies when he was stunned multiple times with a Taser gun.

Joan Crumpler, the attorney representing the Williams' family, said last week that the discovery deadline initially set for earlier this month had been extended, but no one really knows how long the extension will last.

"The judge has issued continuing discovery," she said. "The parties are still exchanging documents and taking depositions."

The case is being heard in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta.

Crumpler said there had been 204 documents e-filed as of Dec. 21, including motions, orders and notices, and that number was expected to increase.

Included as a defendant in the civil case is Gwinnett County, Sheriff Butch Conway and other sheriff's deputies.

As for the incident, when arrested, Williams reportedly struggled with police and later with deputies at the detention center.

Family members said he had not taken his medication for epilepsy, causing him to go into an "epileptic rage." He was shocked with a Taser about five times inside the detention center before he stopped breathing and became unconscious.

Williams died later in the hospital, and an autopsy determined Williams died of a heart attack.

A grand jury in April 2005 decided against forming an inquiry into his death, and the investigation was closed.

None involved in the incident were charged criminally in Gwinnett, which led to the current civil litigation.

The grand jury did, however, urge more caution with the use of Tasers.

Grand jurors asked Gwinnett County police and the Sheriff's Department to incorporate a Taser International bulletin, which warns that multiple applications of a Taser could be lethal.