By Daniel Wallis
MIAMI (Reuters) – Authorities in Florida are investigating the death of a man who was shot with a Taser stun gun by a police officer while resisting arrest, sheriff’s deputies said on Monday.
The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office in central Florida said a 91-year-old woman reported a suspicious person in the yard of her Lake City home on Sunday evening, and that the man threw a metal pipe at her when she challenged him.
A deputy found Timothy Shad Griffis, 41, in a shed on the property, a statement from sheriff’s office said, and when the deputy ordered him out, the suspect threatened to kill him.
The statement said Griffis failed to comply and that the deputy used the Taser after Griffis made “an aggressive movement” toward him. It said Griffis was then handcuffed and paramedics were called.
Griffis began having difficulty breathing, the statement said, and then stopped. The deputy administered CPR and Griffis was taken to the Lake Shore Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter directed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the death and the deputy who confronted Griffis has been placed on paid administrative leave.
Last year, graffiti artist Israel Hernandez-Llach, 18, died after a Miami Beach police officer used a Taser on him when he was cornered after spray-painting a vacant building. Hernandez’s death was caused by “sudden cardiac arrest” from an “energy device discharge,” according to the Miami Dade County Medical Examiner’s office.
Earlier this year, Abel Martinez filed suit against police in Pembroke Pines, Florida, saying they used excessive force against him when he was shot in the chest and hit with a Taser in 2010. Officers had gone to his home after his family called 911 when he began to behave erratically.
Martinez was charged with battery and resisting arrest but was acquitted.
(Reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by David Adams and Bill Trott)