Video: Georgia deputies repeatedly used stun guns on man who died
ATLANTA (CBS News) – Two deputies yell “Stop fighting!” and “He’s got my Taser!” as they repeatedly stun a handcuffed man in the back of a vehicle, commanding him to relax even as he insists “I’m dead,” shortly before he stops breathing, body-camera videos show.
The videos show the Nov. 20 incident in the back of an SUV in Coweta County, outside Atlanta. Chase Sherman, 32, of Destin, Florida, was pronounced dead at a hospital later that day.
It shows the Georgia sheriff’s deputies using stun guns multiple times on a handcuffed man in the back of a vehicle.
The video shows deputies struggling with Sherman until he’s still and they realize he’s not breathing.
The deputies responded after Sherman’s mother called 911. She told the dispatcher she was in a car with her husband, her son and the son’s girlfriend on southbound Interstate 85. She said her son was “freaking out” and had taken a synthetic drug known as spice.
The deputies approach the vehicle and start struggling with Sherman, with someone yelling “Tase him!” and “Hit him!” as he cries out and his mother begs them to stop, as shown in the videos. The videos from the body cameras of the two responding deputies were released Friday by Coweta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Peter Skandalakis.
“What’s your problem, buddy?” one deputy says. “That’s a good way to get shot right there. I tell you right now, you grab my Taser again, it’s gonna be on.”
The deputies insist that his mother and girlfriend in the front seat get away from the area.
“You’re not gonna shot him, you hear me?” Sherman’s mother says.
The deputies tell the family they’re subduing Sherman for their own protection. They call for more help and tell Sherman to “just relax, stop resisting.” They hit him with the stun gun multiple times. He cries out, eventually saying, “I’m dead.”
At one point, Sherman is on the floor of the SUV. An emergency medical technician leans on him.
“I’ve got him pinned. He can’t come up unless he comes up with me on him,” the EMT says. A deputy continues to use his stun gun.
The deputies realize Sherman has stopped breathing and move him out of the vehicle. The family wails off camera. A deputy says, “Get the family back.”
“He ain’t breathing,” someone says.
Emergency personnel do chest compressions on the roadside; a deputy removes Sherman’s handcuffs.
One deputy later says, “Look at my cuffs,” showing his mangled handcuffs from the incident. He says he knows he’ll be fired.
District Attorney Skandalakis said in a statement Friday that his office has not finished reviewing the case and the investigation is ongoing.
Both deputies are still employed with the department, according to Col. James Yarbrough with Coweta County Sheriff’s Office. They’re identified in incident reports as J.D. Sepanski and S.F. Smith.
Nathan Lee, an attorney for the sheriff’s office, said the family has indicated they plan to sue, and the agency’s doesn’t comment on pending or threatened litigation.
Coweta County Sheriff’s Office records from Sherman’s death show one deputy’s stun gun was used nine times in a 2-½-minute span for a total of 47 seconds, including one use that lasted 17 seconds. The other deputy’s stun gun was used six times in just over four minutes for a total of 29 seconds.
The family’s attorney, Chris Stewart, says the records show that the deputies used the stun guns too many times on a handcuffed man.
His death certificate lists his death as a homicide and lists the cause as “sudden death during an altercation with law enforcement with several trigger pulls of an electronic control device, prone positioning on the floor of a motor vehicle and compression of the torso by the body weight of another individual.”
On Feb. 5, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation turned the case over to Coweta County District Attorney Peter Skandalakis, who said in a statement released Friday that his office is still investigating.
“The review of this case is not complete, the investigation is ongoing and a final decision has not been made concerning the outcome of this case,” Skandalakis said.
*Photos via CBS News