Man subdued by Taser dies in police custody

June 11, 2010 10:38:02 AM PDT
Questions are lingering about the death of a man shocked by a police officer's Taser. His family says they don't believe what the Hempstead Police Department says about the incident.

We first told you about it Wednesday morning on Eyewitness News, and since then we've learned new details of what occurred.

The incident all happened in front of the victim's widow. She not only questions the number of times he was shot by that Taser, but also the response he got after losing his breath.

"I just seen when he was running, and he slipped, and when he fell to the ground, the man was just Tasing him," said Calvinette Houston.

She will never forget the scene she saw on Tuesday night. Not only questioning the amount of force used against her husband, Terrell Houston, but what happened after he was subdued.

"And then he waited maybe 20 minutes before he called EMS," she said. "And it took EMS 15 minutes to get here."

Hempstead police say they were summoned to the complex following a 911 hang up.

When the officer arrived, he spotted Terrell Houston, who had previously been warned not to trespass on the property.

The police officer tried to arrest him, but police say Houston broke fee and began running away from the officer. That's when the officer deployed his Taser.

While the department will only say at least two charges were fired, witnesses report at least four.

This neighbor has made up her mind.

"They used too much force, they used too much excessive force," neighbor Barbara Shepherd said.

Hempstead Police Chief David Hartley would not comment on camera about the incident. He did say all of his officers are properly trained in the use of Tasers.

Nonetheless, he has asked the Texas Rangers to investigate the incident to clear up any misconceptions.

As for Houston's widow, she joined activists on Wednesday calling on a moratorium against the use of Tasers by police officers.

"I just want justice for him," she said. "He didn't have to go like that; he could have done something else beside Tase him."

We still don't know Terrell Houston's cause of death, but his family said he had no prior medical problems. An autopsy is scheduled Thursday in Travis County.

The officer who discharged the Taser is on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

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