Mom of man Tased by Fort Worth police disputes cause of death ruling

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on August 30, 2013 at 10:00 PM

Updated Saturday, Aug 31 at 10:40 PM

NEWS 8 EXCLUSIVE

FORT WORTH - Jermaine Darden died within minutes of being Tased by Fort Worth police during a drug raid in May.

The medical examiner ruled the manner of his death as natural. According to the autopsy report obtained by News 8, there was "no direct contribution of Taser to his death."

Darden's mother, Donna Darden Randle, was with Darden at the time of the raid and his death. She said she finds the ruling hard to swallow and blames the Taser and Fort Worth police in her son’s death. She's currently working with an attorney to file a lawsuit.

"No, he didn't die of natural causes," she said. "Because if that's the case, he would have [already] been dead."

The report cited severe heart disease and "application of restraint."   

"They gave him a heart attack," she said. "They put him into a heart attack."

Randle said her son weighed over 300 pounds and couldn't comply with police commands to get on his stomach because he couldn't breathe.

"Six officers on him with his hands behind his back the whole time," she said. "He wasn't fighting them at all. He was just trying to get into a position to breathe."

The medical examiner reviewed video of the May drug raid at a house on Thannisch Avenue.

According to the autopsy report, police used the Taser on Darden twice for five seconds each time, but he continued to struggle. He was handcuffed, seated, alert and breathing when he complained of shortness of breath and became unresponsive.

"Where's the fear for your life? This is my main thing,” Randle said. “Where was the fear for your life that you had to Tase him, period?"

According to police reports, there were four undercover cocaine buys at the house before the raid. Inside the home, officers seized white powder, capsules of brown powder and bags of a leafy substance.

The medical examiner found no drugs in Darden's system other than synthetic marijuana, often called K2. The medical examiner's report indicated it's possible synthetic pot contributed to Darden's heart attack.

“We were telling them, 'Do not Tase him,'" Randle said. "He has breathing problems. He will not be able to take it."

According to a 2012 Amnesty International report, since 2001 more than 500 people died after a Taser was used on them. The vast majority of the deaths were attributed to causes other than electric shock.

Email jdouglas@wfaa.com

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