Police in Panama City, Florida, say a man who died after swallowing a bag of pot and being tasered was resisting arrest.
Police were called to the grounds of an Executive Inn in the Gulf Coast city after 23-year-old Andrew Grande allegedly assaulted a female friend. Sheriff’s deputies say when they arrived on the scene Grande attempted to swallow something that then obstructed his breathing.
Video footage shot by a reality-show camera crew shows officers holding Grande down on the ground. Grande attempts to get up and remove something from his throat. Realizing Grande is choking, one officer from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office attempts the Heimlich maneuver on the suspect while another rushes to a squad car to bring over a first-aid kit.
Grande was rushed to hospital by paramedics and pronounced dead at Bay Medical Center, in the early morning hours of Friday. The Panama City News Herald reports that paramedics had been able to remove a baggie of marijuana from Grande’s throat, but not in time to save his life. Officers described the marijuana baggie as “large.”
Medical officials have listed Grande’s cause of death as asphyxia due to obstruction of the airway. The tasering is not mentioned as a cause of death.
Sheriff Frank McKeithen told WJHG-TV that Grande would have likely faced misdemeanor marijuana charges, but that the “stakes became more serious” when he began to resist arrest.
“The guy was on the ground, the officer was trying to handcuff him. If he had allowed them to handcuff him it would have been over. There would have been no tasering,” McKeithen said.
“It could have been handled by compliance,” McKeithen told the News Herald. “It pretty much ended up with him taking his own life.”
A PDF press release from Bay County Sheriff’s Department is available here.