‘Tase him!’ ‘I’m dead’: Deputies struggle with man in video

COWETA COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE

ATLANTA (AP) — Two deputies yell “Stop fighting!” and “He’s got my Taser!” as they repeatedly stun a handcuffed man in the back of a vehicle, commanding him to relax even as he insists “I’m dead,” shortly before he stops breathing, body-camera video from the incident shows.

The video shows the Nov. 20 incident in the back of an SUV in Coweta County, outside Atlanta. Chase Sherman, 32, of Destin, Florida, was pronounced dead at a hospital later that day.

The deputies responded after Sherman’s mother called 911. She told the dispatcher she was in a car with her husband, her son and the son’s girlfriend on southbound Interstate 85. She said her son was “freaking out” and had taken a synthetic drug known as spice.

The deputies approach the vehicle and start struggling with Sherman, with someone yelling “Tase him!” and “Hit him!” as he cries out and his mother begs them to stop, as shown in the video, obtained Friday by The Associated Press from the family’s attorney and first posted by The New York Times (http://nyti.ms/1TuBsvG ).

“What’s your problem, buddy?” one deputy says. “That’s a good way to get shot right there. I tell you right now, you grab my Taser again, it’s gonna be on.”

The deputies insist that his mother and girlfriend in the front seat get away from the area.

“You’re not gonna shot him, you hear me?” Sherman’s mother says.

The deputies say Sherman also broke their radio as they try to call for help, and they tell the family they’re subduing Sherman for their own protection. Once they have a working radio, the deputies request help from 911 and continue to tell Sherman to “just relax, stop resisting.” They stun him again, and he cries out, eventually saying “I’m dead.”

The deputies realize Sherman has stopped breathing and move him out of the vehicle. The family wails off camera, and a deputy says, “Get the family back.”

“He ain’t breathing,” someone says.

One deputy later says “Look at my cuffs,” showing his mangled handcuffs from the incident. He tells his colleagues that he knows he’ll be fired over the incident, but one insists he won’t.

Coweta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Peter Skandalakis said in a statement Friday that his office has not finished reviewing the case and the investigation is ongoing.

Both deputies are still employed with the department, according to Col. James Yarbrough with Coweta County Sheriff’s Office. They’re identified in incident reports as J.D. Sepanski and S. Smith.

Coweta County Sheriff’s Office records from Sherman’s death show that one deputy’s stun gun was used nine times in a 2-½-minute span for a total of 47 seconds, including one use that lasted 17 seconds. The other deputy’s stun gun was used six times in just over four minutes for a total of 29 seconds.

The family’s attorney, Chris Stewart, has said the records show that the deputies used the stun guns too many times on a handcuffed man.

Sherman’s death certificate lists his death as a homicide and lists the cause as “sudden death during an altercation with law enforcement with several trigger pulls of an electronic control device, prone positioning on the floor of a motor vehicle and compression of the torso by the body weight of another individual.”

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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