David Edwards and Muriel Kane
August 6, 2008
A Pennsylvania man has died after being tasered by local police, and the Civil Rights section of the FBI’s Pittsburgh office has now opened a preliminary investigation. Although the cause of death has not yet been determined, witnesses insist the man was kicked and beaten by police officers after he was forced to the ground and handcuffed.
Residents in Swissvale, PA had called police after they observed 37 year old Andre Thomas knocking on doors in the middle of the night and yelling that someone was trying to shoot him.
According to Allegheny County Police Assistant Supt. James Morton, when the officers arrived Thomas "was like yelling and screaming and acting really erratically, and they didn’t know what the situation was. So they asked him just to calm down and so forth and he made a movement towards them. So they had to tase him."However, witnesses insist that Thomas was then brutalized by police, with one telling KDKA News that "after he was tased and handcuffed, one officer used a football-type kick and stomped him in the head."
Another woman recounted to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette what she saw after four officers forced Thomas to the ground. "’They killed that man. They killed him. They killed him,’ she added, her hands trembling. The woman said she saw one officer stomp on Mr. Thomas’s upper back, holding his foot there while the subject lay on the sidewalk with his head hanging over the curb. Another officer ‘reared back and punched him in the head with all his might,’ she said."
Thomas vomited, then lay motionless. An ambulance arrived and he was was treated at the scene by emergency medical personnel. Police allege Thomas was conscious at the time, but he was pronounced dead after being taken to a local hospital.
Andre Thomas’s father, Dennis Thomas, now says, "I want to know what happened, what the particulars of the incident were that caused my son’s death."
This video is from KDKA News 2, broadcast August 5, 2008.