Man who died after Taser stun was facing trial
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Man who died after Taser stun was facing trial

Chicago Sun Times | February 12, 2005

Ronald A. Hasse -- who died after police used a Taser stun gun to subdue him as he allegedly threatened to infect them with HIV -- was a former Chicago securities trader awaiting trial for burying a body on an Indiana farm.

The Cook County medical examiner's office said the cause of Hasse's death Thursday remained under investigation.

Still, Taser International Inc. saw its shares drop 9 percent Friday. The company is the manufacturer of the 200 stun guns the Chicago Police Department uses.

On Monday, a 14-year-old boy went into cardiac arrest after a Chicago Police sergeant used a Taser to subdue him at a Northwest Side school. Police were called after the 6-foot-2, 220-pound boy attacked three state home workers and punched out security windows.

The boy, a ward of the state, was taken off a ventilator Wednesday. The state Department of Children and Family Services has sued the city and the sergeant for negligence.

Sam Cappas, an Indiana attorney representing Hasse's family, said he also might file a lawsuit. "Obviously his parents are grieving over the loss of their son and are incensed the police would use a Taser on him even after it caused someone to go into cardiac arrest earlier this week."

Weapon used on yet another

Mayor Daley said Friday the city is looking into whether the police should continue using Taser stun guns. He called Hasse's death "unfortunate."

Daley said he would rely on the advice of police Supt. Phil Cline, who is not discontinuing the use of the 200 stun guns now in service, but has ordered a halt to the deployment of 100 more Tasers until the two incidents are investigated.

Even as the mayor announced the review of stun guns, a third incident was reported Friday. Police said they used a Taser to subdue a 29-year-old man who led them on a chase through the West Side -- at several points striking several squad cars.

Police had tried to stop the man at Central Park and Roosevelt for driving with tinted windows. When caught, the man struggled and a sergeant used a Taser, Sgt. Robert Cargie said.

Michael Dunbar, of the 300 block of N. Massasoit Ave., was evaluated at a hospital and released to police.

Police have used Tasers in 150 incidents since the department started using them in the fall of 2003.

Questions have been raised across the country about Tasers, touted as a non-lethal weapon. In November, Amnesty International reported 74 Taser-related deaths since 2001 -- a figure the company disputes.

"Until all the facts surrounding the two tragic incidents in Chicago are known, it is inappropriate to jump to conclusions," said Steve Tuttle, a spokesman for Taser.

Hasse worked at the Chicago Board of Trade until a drug arrest wrecked his career, Cappas said.

In 2001, Hasse was at home in northwest Indiana partying with a friend, Jeffrey Haugh, and Michael Denvit, a man they met at a bar. Hasse later told police Denvit took GHB, the date-rape drug. Hasse said the next morning, Denvit was dead. Hasse said he did not call 911 because he did not trust the police and buried the body on his family's farm.

Hasse was facing trial in June on a charge of unlawful transport of a body and failure to notify police of a death, Cappas said.

Thursday afternoon, paramedics were called to a Lake View apartment building to treat Hasse for shortness of breath.

Hasse was visiting two roommates, but they asked him to leave when he became out of control, police said. He tried to kick and bite an officer, police said. A sergeant used a Taser to subdue Hasse after he was warned three times to calm down, police said.

The roommates, Eric Miller, 48, and Steven Giardino, 40, were charged Friday with possession of cocaine.

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