A Statesville man who died after he was shocked multiple times with Taser guns was in handcuffs at the time, authorities confirmed Tuesday.
Anthony Davidson was picked up Saturday after being accused of stealing an Applebee's gift card while shopping with his wife at a Food Lion on N.C. 115. Authorities said he was behaving “abnormally” when they questioned him about the theft, but they wouldn't give details.
Statesville police took Davidson to the Iredell County jail where he appeared before a magistrate on a misdemeanor larceny charge. He ran down a hallway while being escorted to the booking room in handcuffs by two officers and an Iredell County sheriff's deputy, said sheriff's Capt. Darren Campbell.
Davidson then became “physically aggressive and was communicating loudly,” Statesville police said Monday. That's when they say officers used one or more Tasers to get him back under control.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
One deputy suffered minor injuries and was treated and released from a hospital, Campbell said.
Authorities declined to further detail the confrontation or name the officers who shocked Davidson. They also wouldn't say how many times Davidson was shocked or how long each shock lasted.
The incident was videotaped on jail monitors but authorities have not released the tape.
One source familiar with the investigation told the Observer Monday that Davidson was shocked at least three times by more than one officer.
At least one Taser expert said Tuesday it's unusual for officers to shock suspects who are handcuffed.
Typically, Tasers are used to subdue a violent person who is posing a threat to police or others. Once a suspect is handcuffed, they are usually less of a threat, says Darrell Tidwell, a former Georgia police officer who serves as an expert witness nationally in Taser and other use-of-force cases.
“It's pretty rare to be Tased while you're handcuffed,” Tidwell said. “Sometimes it's a gray area … To use any force, a person has to be resisting (and) the officer has to ask, ‘Do I feel threatened?'”
A nurse who examined Davidson afterward told officers he appeared to be under the influence of an impairing substance, police said.
Paramedics took Davidson to the hospital. His condition declined and he died about 10:30 p.m. Sunday.
“Anytime something like this happens we feel badly for the family,” Campbell said.
Two Statesville officers are on paid administrative duty until a State Bureau of Investigation probe is complete.
Two sheriff's deputies who were involved in the incident are still on duty, Campbell said. He refused to say whether either fired a Taser. One deputy suffered minor injuries and was treated and released from a hospital, he said.
Both departments are conducting internal reviews.
Investigators were waiting for autopsy results Tuesday. A spokeswoman at the N.C. Medical Examiner's office in Chapel Hill declined to give preliminary results.
A Taser is a weapon that typically uses compressed nitrogen to shoot two tethered needle-like probes that penetrate skin and deliver an electric shock.
Studies suggest that multiple shocks might increase the risk of serious injury, which has prompted some agencies to limit the number of times an officer can shock someone, and to prohibit lengthy shocks.
Officers are taught to pull and immediately release the Taser trigger to deliver a five-second shock.
Davidson's death is the second Taser-related death this year in the Charlotte area. In March, 17-year-old Darryl Wayne Turner, died after Charlotte-Mecklenburg police used a Taser on him at a Food Lion store in Charlotte.
The officer involved in the Charlotte death was cleared of criminal charges but was suspended for five days for violating the department's policy when he shocked Turner for 37 seconds, which an autopsy cited as a factor in his death.