Charlotte Detectives Continue Investigation Into Teen’s Death Being Hit With A Taser
WSOCTV.com, March 21, 2008
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- On Friday, homicide detectives went back to the store where a police officer used a Taser to subdue a teenager Thursday afternoon.
Police said they were called to the Food Lion on Prosperity Church Road in north Charlotte on a disturbance call. They said 17-year-old Darryl Turner was reportedly fighting with his manager and even throwing objects at him.
Police said Turner "refused all verbal commands and began walking toward the officer," and that's when the officer used his Taser. The teen was rushed to the hospital, where he later died.
Joe Kuhns, a criminal justice professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is an expert on the use of force in law enforcement. He said such deaths are very rare.
“In situations that call for non-lethal force, it's preferred to pull a Taser than a firearm. In many cases, they can be safer than firearms,” he said.
But some who had seen Turner are questioning the use of force.
“He’s 17 years old, he’s skinny, he’s not a big man. You can’t tell me you are going to (stun) this little boy. He’s not a man, he’s a little boy,” said Ezra Carter, whose son worked alongside Turner at the Food Lion.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said this is the first death associated with a Taser since officers started using them in 2004.
The officer involved, whose name has not been released, is on administrative leave as internal affairs and homicide detectives continue their investigation.
The medical examiner’s office said autopsy results on Turner may not be available for several weeks.
To comment on this story, e-mail Ashlea Kosikowski.
AT NORTHEAST CHARLOTTE SUPERMARKET
17-year-old dies after shock from police Taser gun
CMPD says teenager advanced toward officer
VICTORIA CHERRIE, charlotte.com, March 21, 2006
A 17-year-old died at Carolinas Medical Center Thursday after a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer shocked him with a Taser during a confrontation at a grocery store in northeast Charlotte.
An autopsy will determine how Darryl Wayne Turner died.
Turner had worked as a cashier and bagged groceries at the Food Lion at 3024 Prosperity Church Road, where the incident happened.
Officers responded to a disturbance call at the grocery store about 1:15 p.m. When they arrived, they saw Turner throwing something at a store manager, according to a CMPD news release issued Thursday night. The release does not say what the object was, and a police spokeswoman could not be reached.
According to the release, Turner appeared to be agitated, refused all commands and advanced toward the police officer. The officer then used his Taser to get Turner under control, the release said.
The release does not say whether Turner was armed.
Turner's mother, Tammy Fontenot, said she couldn't see her son throwing something at someone during an argument.
"He had manners," she said. "But he did have a temper."
A preliminary check of N.C. criminal records did not turn up any criminal convictions for the teen.
Turner graduated from Crossroads Charter High School last year, his mother said. He had wanted to go to Central Piedmont Community College and be a personal trainer. He didn't have any health problems and had never been in trouble, she said.
Except on Thursday.
Around lunchtime, Turner had come home to eat and told his mom that he had stolen a couple of Hot Pockets from the store. A supervisor planned to get a district manager involved and he feared disciplinary action, she said.
She said she told him to go back to the store and face up to what happened.
It wasn't long after lunch she got a call from one of her son's co-workers, who told her about the incident, she said.
After Turner was hit, police called the Charlotte Fire Department and paramedics, department policy anytime an officer uses a Taser gun, the release said.
Homicide detectives are investigating Turner's death and will present their findings to the district attorney, the news release said.
The Police Department also will conduct its own investigation into the incident. A review board, made up of the officer's chain of command, internal affairs and a member of the city's community relations committee, will review evidence and interview witnesses to determine whether the officer followed all the department's policies, the news release said.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have used Tasers or similar weapons since 2004 and said in their release that they have had no deaths associated with their use. Last year, officers used Tasers 138 times. Officers are to use them to prevent, whenever possible, the escalation to the use of deadly force.
Victoria Cherrie: 704-358-5062
-- Staff research Sara Klemmer contributed.