Gaston & Catawba

Man injured when officer uses Taser

A man was in critical condition today after a Hickory police officer shocked him with a Taser stun gun while trying to arrest him.

The use of force happened Monday afternoon after Officer Lance Bean spotted a man walking along South Center Street and recognized him as a suspect with an outstanding warrant against him, said Capt. Clyde Deal of the Hickory Police Department.

Bean checked with the county's emergency dispatch center and confirmed the outstanding warrant on several charges, including failure to appear and a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge. He then approached the man to arrest him, Deal said, but the man ran from the officer.

As Bean chased the man through a residential neighborhood, the officer warned him he would shock him with a Taser if he didn't stop, but the man kept running, Deal said. Bean then shocked the man.

When the man still didn't stop, Bean shocked him a second time, Deal said, and the man fell to the ground, hitting his head on a landscaping timber.

Bean called for an ambulance and arrested Michael Douglas Connor, 25, who was taken to Frye Regional Medical Center. Connor was listed in critical condition Tuesday evening.

Deal said the department is reviewing the use of force but that it hadn't placed Bean on leave because department policy doesn't call for that in the use of Tasers and other “soft, intermediate weapons,” a category that also includes batons, pepper spray and handcuffs.

Taser use by police officers has been under scrutiny in the Charlotte region after two deaths this year following Taser shockings. Last month, an inmate at the Iredell County jail died after being shocked with a Taser. In March, a teen-ager died after a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer shocked him with a Taser.

Deal wouldn't speculate on whether Connor's condition resulted from the Taser shockings or from hitting his head when he fell. Hospital officials wouldn't say, either, citing patient privacy law.

Deal did say that with Taser use, “most of the time you don't have any type of serious injury.”

Studies show that multiple Taser shocks could increase risk of serious injury, findings that have moved some law enforcement agencies to put limits on the number of times and length of time officers can shock people.

Observer archives contributed.