Naked man dies after being shocked by Taser

March 2, 2009 6:56:16 AM PST
A man died after he was shocked by a Taser. Deputies in Montgomery County say they were just trying to get him under control.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The man's family is trying to comprehend everything that's happened. Relatives say they just wanted to calm him down and they didn't think things would turn out like this.

Family members called for help Saturday morning from their home near Conroe in Montgomery County, and deputies showed up. The major crimes unit of the Montgomery County Sheriff's office, the District Attorney's office, and notably the Texas Rangers are investigating the death of the 40-year-old man, who was dead just minutes after he was subdued by a Taser and deputies. His family is now wondering how different things might have been if they had never called for help.

The home on Golden Oaks Drive is peaceful. That's what a 40-year-old Houston man was seeking when he packed his car full of all that he owned and moved to his parents' home. Robert Lee Welch was diabetic and said to be depressed over a recent breakup. Saturday morning his family says Welch lost himself.

Welch's brother David Nichols recalled, "I saw my brother in the bathroom -- very incoherent and without any clothes on -- walking around in circles."

His family says he couldn't be calmed down and couldn't communicate, so an ambulance was called. Montgomery County deputies arrived first. According to a press release, Welch resisted their attempts to restrain him. They deployed a Taser -- six times, the family says.

"He never felt any of it," Nichole said. "He did not react to it."

Welch's mother says a deputy put his foot on the back of his neck and then her son's body relaxed. He was loaded into an ambulance. A statement from the sheriff's office says paramedics discovered he wasn't breathing and didn't have a pulse. A few minutes later at a Conroe hospital, Robert Lee Welch was pronounced dead.

His family for now is reserving judgment on what caused his death. The challenge is trying to comprehend that he's gone.

"It hurts the family, but it's not my time to do this. My time will be when I put my brother in the ground," Nichols said.

We made repeated calls to the sheriff's department for an interview but a spokesperson has yet to call us back. An autopsy will be conducted next week on Welch's body. The family is now trying to find money for a funeral.

It's been a couple months since anyone in our area has died after being shocked with a Taser. Back in December, sheriff's deputies used one on a man in northern Harris County. They'd tried to subdue him. They say he died from other health problems right after his arrest.

A recent report from Amnesty International shows more than 330 people have died in Taser incidents in the US since 2001.

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