A Fort Worth family wants answers about why their brother was tased during a drug raid.
Police say Jermaine Darden was resisting arrest in May of last year when they tased him twice. Darden died, and his family says tasing caused his death.
SWAT and narcotics officers headed to Darden’s rental home to serve a narcotics warrant.
Darden was 5-foot-8 and 340 pounds. He suffered from obesity, hypertensive cardiovascular disease and other illnesses.
“He was so obese that if he laid down, he couldn’t breathe or he would stop breathing,” said Darden’s sister, Angela Tyson. Tyson says her brother slept on his knees, leaning over the arm of a sofa.
Video from cameras worn by Fort Worth police provide proof of what did and didn’t happen when officers got to Darden’s on the day he died.
In the video, as officers enter the home, Darden appears to be on his knees on a sofa with his hands up. There are children and other adults inside the home, and two officers control all of them in one room.
But officers seem to be struggling with Darden, who is not moving quickly to the floor. Officers yell commands at him as other police move through the house.
Police pull Darden from the sofa to the floor, and the other suspects try to tell police that Darden has difficulty breathing.
“He got asthma, man!” said one suspect. “He got asthma!”
Four officers wrestle with Darden to get him down and put his hands behind him before the taser can be heard going off.
Officers yell for Darden to put his hands behind his back and then tase him a second time. Darden goes down, and officers strain to get his hands behind him before they finally get zip ties and handcuffs on the big man.
“Everyone in the house kept trying to explain, he's not resisting arrest; he's just trying to get into a position where he can breathe, and no one was listening,” said Tyson.
After Darden is placed in a sitting position, an officer uses his leg as a backstop because Darden, who is not responding, does not sit up on his own.
A medical examiner listed Darden’s cause of death as sudden cardiac death (associated with his health issues) and application of restraint.
The report lists the manner of death as natural, but also says Darden had synthetic marijuana in his system.
The medical examiner found "There was no direct contribution of taser deployment to his death."
However, Tyson disagrees.
“This is no better than strapping them to the electric chair and flipping the switch,” said Tyson. “It’s just that bad. No one has the right to take somebody’s life like that. No one should die like this; no one.”
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