Man dies after scuffle with deputies

December 19, 2008 6:44:33 PM PST
A 26-year-old man visiting his family died on Thursday night after being Tasered by Campbell police. Just this week-- San Jose police settled a lawsuit with the family of another man who did not survive being Tasered by officers.

There is little evidence left of the struggle with a 6'3, 300-pound man outside the emergency psychiatric services building at Valley Medical Center.

When it ended, 26-year-old Edwin Rodriguez Pelicot was dead.

"While they're on top of him, they're kicking him, they're punching him. They're doing things that they shouldn't be doing because he's already down. They handcuffed him and they Tased him twice," said the victim's cousin Emilia Centeno.

Family members say Rodriguez suffered from hallucinations and was off his medication. They took him to the hospital and asked a deputy to help check him in, but Rodriguez wanted to leave.

A Campbell police agent happened to be at the hospital and saw the struggle.

"He recognized how intense the altercation had become and he intervened and deployed his Taser," said Sgt. Don Morrissey from Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office.

Campbell police officers say the nine-year veteran Tased Rodriguez several times before they could cuff him. Rodriguez stopped moving, and was pronounced dead inside the hospital.

"Regardless of what the ultimately what the causes are, it's a loss and it's a tragedy and we understand and recognize the family's sorrow in this," said Campbell Police Captain David Dehaan.

Captain Dehaan says this is Campbell's first Taser death. The officer involved is on administrative leave.

A recent study of the X26 stun gun, the same one used on Rodriguez, showed they can fire more electricity than intended.

However, a study funded by the National Institute of Justice last year showed the devices were safe.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez' parents were preparing to take him home to Puerto Rico at the end of this month. Now they're preparing for his funeral.

"He was visiting us. He was my cousin and he was here for seven months with us, his last seven months," said Centeno.

An autopsy was performed Friday at the County's Coroner's Office, but it could take another eight to12 weeks for the results of toxicology reports before an exact cause of death is known.


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