UTAH TASER DEATH
POSTED: Thursday, June 11, 2009 - 8:21am
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 2:24pm
Utah man dies after being tasered; witnesses question police actions...
The investigation continues into the death of Utah resident Brian Cardall, who died after an officer deployed a Taser against him Tuesday afternoon.
Investigators are still not releasing many details about the incident, but a witness told reporters the behavior she saw indicated mental illness, not a threat to the public.
Cardall, 32, was traveling with his wife when they stopped so he could take some medication for what his family has described as needed for mental illness.
His wife called 911 for help after he started running down the road.
A Washington County woman, who asked to conceal her identity, saw two officers there with Cardall Tuesday afternoon.
"You could tell something was wrong with him," she said.
The woman says Cardall was calm; he'd taken off his clothes and was waving his hands as if he were directing traffic next to the officers on the side of the road.
"As I looked back, he was still standing there. The kids looked back. He was still standing there. He was not running at all the whole time I was driving," the woman said.
She was able to view the scene for about a minute and didn't see Cardall behaving aggressively toward police.
She was horrified to learn he was later tased and died.
"I don't think he should have been tasered. It was obvious he had no weapon, no weapon was in his hand," the woman said.
The Hurricane Police Department is referring all questions to Salt Lake lawyer Peter Stirba, but he won't comment on why the officer fired his Taser.
The department did release its Taser use policy Wednesday.
It states an officer must base his decision on the same criteria as if they're using a chemical spray or a baton.
Officers also must consider the actions of the subject and the threat facing them.
An investigation is being conducted by the Washington County Critical Task Force, which is composed of law enforcement from around the county, excluding Hurricane Police in this instance.
"We're making progress. We're identifying the people who have information about it," said Washington County Undersheriff Jake Adams.
They've also obtained an audio recording of those critical moments that will help in the investigation.
"Apparently he turned on a digital recorder before he arrived at the scene, and I think that will shed some light," Adams said.
The recording is not yet being released to the public, but investigators say it captured the sound of several passing cars.
They'd like to speak to those drivers.
That's one reason the task force isn't commenting yet on Cardall's actions that afternoon.
"One thing we don't want to do is speculate about what he was doing, as we are still trying to get those motorists to call in. We don't want to taint their recollections," Adams said.
"We feel for the family. We feel for the officer, because no one wants to see something like this happen," said Chief Deputy Rob Tersigni of the Washington County Sheriff's Office.