0

Report: Police Taser jammed
Policeman's weapon would not deploy

NORCROSS - A Taser used by authorities on a 27-year-old Norcross man reportedly malfunctioned, according to a police report available Monday.

Carlos Rodriguez died Wednesday at Gwinnett Medical Center after Sheriff's deputies used the Taser to subdue him during a confrontation at the Lia Hills Drive apartment complex on Lia Hills Drive.

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

In a statement issued last week by Gwinnett Chief Forensic Investigator Ted Bailey, it was confirmed Rodriguez had been shocked once, possibly twice by the stun gun device, but Bailey said he could not comment on what effects the Taser played in the man's death.

Bailey said there were no "significant traumatic injuries" found after an autopsy, but Rodriguez's cause and manner of death are pending further studies, including a toxicology test, which is 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.

According to a Gwinnett County Police Department incident report, a Gwinnett officer arrived at the apartment complex to find Gwinnett County sheriff's deputies John Irvine and Nicholas Higgins "feverishly performing CPR" on Rodriguez until paramedics arrived.

The report says Higgins told Gwinnett officers he and Irvine were initially at the complex to serve an eviction notice when they were alerted of a fight behind the apartment building.

Authorities found Rodriguez and three other men "intoxicated and fighting," the report said.

According to the report, Higgins said Rodriguez began arguing with another man at the apartment complex, and when he attempted to arrest the 27-year-old, he began kicking Higgins and Irvine.

Higgins attempted to deploy his Taser, but it "malfunctioned" and he then attempted to "drive stun," placing the Taser directly against Rodriguez's body, the report said.

Afterward, Rodriguez complied with authorities. Once in custody, deputies realized Rodriguez was not breathing, and Higgins attempted to resuscitate Rodriguez, according to the report.

Irvine and Higgins have been placed on paid administrative leave while Gwinnett Sheriff's Department investigators and Sheriff's Professional Standards Unit investigate the incident.

Sheriff Butch Conway said he could not comment much on the incident due to the ongoing investigation.

"I haven't heard that, and I haven't seen the report," Conway said of the malfunctioning Taser mentioned in the report. "Right now we're waiting on toxicology reports to determine how the subject died."

Conway said in order to carry a Taser, deputies must pass training that includes being shocked. He stands by the guns as equipment that adds to the safety of his deputies.