April 11, 2008

Family Wants Answers After Death Involving TASER Device

Henry Bryant

Jeremy Brilliant/Eyewitness News

wthr.com

Indianapolis - The family of a man who died after being stunned with a TASER by police is considering taking legal action. They believe the TASER played a role in his death and plan to sue either the manufacturer or Indianapolis Metro Police. It was after a scuffle with police inside the O'Charley's restaurant on 38th Street Friday night when Henry Orlando Bryant stopped breathing and died. "It's sad. It breaks my heart that he left like this. It really does," said Rita Abram, mother. Police were called to the restaurant after Scott Broadnax reportedly waved a handgun in the air. Broadnax, who has a conceal carry permit, cooperated with officers and gave them the weapon. But police say his friend Henry Bryant would not obey officers' orders. "He was not combative. He did not bad mouth the police department," said Broadnax. "There was nothing that he did that would cause him to be tased or for him to lose his life that night." According to police, it took several officers to subdue the 35-year-old. Three officers were slightly hurt during the fight. They used chemical spray and a Taser to get Bryant to comply. "He ended up dying for what reason, I don't know," said Broadnax. In 2004, after a test period, Indianapolis decided to arm nearly half of the police force with Tasers. As part of their training, every officer that carries one is shot with the device. "For us to use this on our own people for training we're pretty confident it's a safe weapon. This is just a very unusual circumstance," said Sgt. Paul Thompson, IMPD. In the past four years, officers have fired TASERs at suspects hundreds of times. It's a practice IMPD defends, but raises serious questions for at least one family. "If they continue to use these like they are, there's going to be more deaths. Innocent people like my son getting killed when it's not necessary," said Abram. Bryant's preliminary cause of death has not been determined. It could take up to three months for a definitive cause. Two people have died after being tased by Indianapolis Police. In both cases, the coroner determined the men died as the result of a drug overdose, not the Taser.

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