AKRON, Ohio - A medical examiner must change her autopsy findings to delete any reference that stun guns contributed to the deaths of three people involved in confrontations with law enforcement officers, a judge ruled.
Friday's decision was a victory for Taser International Inc., which had challenged rulings by Summit County Medical Examiner Lisa Kohler, including a case in which five sheriff's deputies are charged in the death a jail inmate who was restrained by the wrists and ankles and hit with pepper spray and a stun gun.
Kohler ruled that the 2006 death of Mark McCullaugh Jr., 28, was a homicide and that he died from asphyxiation due to the 'combined effects of chemical, mechanical and electrical restraint.'
Visiting Judge Ted Schneiderman said in his ruling that there was no expert evidence to indicate that Taser devices impaired McCullaugh's respiration. 'More likely, the death was due to a fatal cardiac arrhythmia brought on by severe heart disease,' the judge wrote.
Schneiderman ordered Kohler to rule McCullaugh's death undetermined and to delete any references to homicide.
The judge also said references to stun guns contributing to the deaths of two other men must be deleted from autopsy findings. Dennis Hyde, 30, died in 2005 after a confrontation with Akron police, and Richard Holcomb, 18, died the same year after being hit with a stun by a police officer in suburban Springfield Township.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Posted by Todd Andrew Barnett at 6:44 PM