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No 'traumatic injuries' found in Taser death, examiner says

NORCROSS - Although autopsy results were released Friday, a Gwinnett forensic investigator said he could not comment on what effects a Taser played in the death of a Norcross man.

In a written statement Friday, Chief Forensic Investigator Ted Bailey said there were no "significant traumatic injuries" found after an autopsy of 27-year-old Carlos Rodriguez. However, results indicated the man received one, possibly two shocks from the stun gun.

Rodriguez died Wednesday at Gwinnett Medical Center-Duluth after sheriff's deputies used the Taser to subdue him at the Lia Hills Drive apartment complex.

Authorities said Rodriguez became combative and got into a physical confrontation with authorities, which prompted the deputies to deploy their Tasers.

Bailey said Rodriguez's cause and manner of death are pending further studies, including a toxicology test, expected no sooner than 10 to 12 weeks.

"We can not opine about what effects, if any, the Taser played in this death until the investigation is complete," Bailey wrote in a statement issued to the Post.

Both deputies involved in the incident, John Irvine and Nicholas Higgins, have been placed on paid administrative leave while sheriff's investigators and the Sheriff's Professional Standards Unit look into the incident.

Rodriguez's death is not the first time incidents involving Tasers have turned deadly in the county. Two men died in 2003 after being shocked while combating deputies at the Gwinnett jail.

Sheriff Butch Conway has said in these past incidents nor in Rodriguez's case did deputies appear to violate any policies or procedures.

To carry a Taser, deputies must pass training that includes being shocked, Conway said. He believes the equipment adds to the safety of his deputies.