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Man begs police not to use stun gun on him during raid

Chicago Sun-Times | February 18, 2005

When Chicago Police raided an Uptown home Wednesday searching for narcotics, a man appeared at the door begging officers not to use a Taser on him because his friend had died last week after being shocked by a police stun gun, officials said.

Town Hall District officers executed a search warrant in the 1300 block of West Argyle and found more than an ounce of methamphetamine, an illegal stimulant becoming increasingly popular in the neighborhood, police said.

The man was not arrested because he was visiting the home and was not listed on the warrant. He said he was a friend of Ronald Hasse, a 54-year-old man who died last week after a police sergeant used a Taser to subdue him in a Lake View apartment building as he allegedly tried to bite and kick officers.

A police investigation determined the sergeant followed department guidelines in his use of the Taser, which delivers a shock of 50,000 volts through two barbs fired from a pistol-like device.

Hasse's death came days after a 14-year-old went into cardiac arrest when Chicago Police used a stun gun to subdue him. The two incidents have prompted the Police Department to review the safety of Tasers, but sergeants are continuing to use the devices.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police is expected to issue a bulletin urging departments to review their use of stun guns because more than 80 deaths have been reported since 1999 after people were shocked by them. Taser International insists no medical evidence proves the devices are dangerous.

Waiting for toxicology results

Authorities are investigating if drug use contributed to Hasse's death. Police said they found cocaine in the apartment of two men Hasse was visiting.

The man questioned after Wednesday's 11:30 a.m. raid told officers Hasse was a regular methamphetamine user but he did not know if Hasse took the drug the day he died, police said. Hasse had worked for the Chicago Board of Trade until a drug arrest derailed his career.

The Cook County medical examiner's office is awaiting the results of a toxicology exam to see if any illegal drugs were in Hasse's system.

The office will not issue a cause of death until the police complete their investigation and the toxicology results are finished, which could take at least six weeks, officials said.

Hasse's family has retained a private board-certified pathologist who has conducted her own autopsy and found what appeared to be a "choke mark" on his neck, said attorney Sam Cappas, who is exploring a possible wrongful death lawsuit. "I think it's going toward excessive force," Cappas said.

The Cook County medical examiner's autopsy, however, found no evidence of strangulation, a spokesman said.

 


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