PANAMA CITY — A Georgia man who was stunned by a Taser during a law enforcement BADGES investigation was taken to a hospital shortly after the tasing Friday and later died, Panama City Police said in a news release.
Two Panama City Police officers and two Bay County Sheriff’s deputies, all of whom are part of the Bay Area Drug and Gang Enforcement Squad (BADGES), stopped a vehicle Friday afternoon in the area of the Turtle Lake Apartments, which is just off West 20th Street. Officers saw that one of the vehicle’s occupants was “consuming an unknown amount of what appeared to be narcotics,” officials said in a news release.
The two Panama City police officers attempted to prevent the man from “consuming or destroying” what turned out to be a large amount of crack cocaine, and they began to struggle, officials said late Friday.
One of the Panama City officers pulled out his Taser X26 and used it to stun the man in what is known as a “drive stun,” the release said. In a drive stun, the probe cartridge is removed from the Taser before use; the device is then pressed against the subject and used, according to the release.
By design, the Taser can be used in 5-second blasts only; however, officials said late Friday they did not yet know if the man was stunned more than once. After the altercation ended, officers realized the man was in need of medical attention and rushed him to the hospital, officials said. He later died.
The medical examiner’s office will perform an autopsy as early as today to determine the cause of death. The man’s name was not released Friday night pending notification of his family, officials said. The names of the officers involved in the incident were not released Friday night.
The two Panama City officers were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation, officials said. Panama City officials have asked Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the death, said Deputy Chief Robert Colbert.
“I think everyone involved would agree that this is an unfortunate sequence of events that, if it were at all possible, we would liked to have avoided,” Colbert said. “However, you do have an individual that became combative with law enforcement, and officers are required to react.”
Two other men inside the vehicle were arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia. The men have been identified as Bernard Crapps, 30, of Panama City, and Jarell Lacoute Daniels, 25, of Albany, Ga. Another man is in custody and faces weapons and drug charges, but officers did not yet know the man’s identity late Friday, officials said