Cop Watch

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Medical Examiner Rules Homicide In Taser Death Case

HOUSTON -- The Harris County Medical Examiner's Office has determined homicide, not a Taser gun, was the cause of a death for man who died after authorities shot him with the stun gun, Local 2 reported Tuesday.

The medical examiner ruled Joel Casey's death as psychotic delirium with associated hypertensive disease.

Casey, 52, died in February after deputy constables with the Harris County Precinct 1's mental health unit used the stun gun to take him into custody outside his home in the 4700 block of Meyerwood.

Casey's mother -- who called authorities and asked for help getting her son to a hospital so he could receive treatment for his schizophrenia -- claimed authorities used unnecessary force, which led to his death.

Authorities investigating the case said the two officers who responded to the call were not aware that Casey had a weak heart. His heart stopped beating after he was shot with the 50,000-volt Taser gun; however, preliminary autopsy results indicated the stun gun did not kill him.

Early autopsy results showed Casey had a broken hyoid bone, which could be an indication that he suffocated or was strangled to death.

The hyoid is a horseshoe-shaped bone located near the windpipe that supports the muscles of the tongue. A broken hyoid bone is often found in strangulation victims, according to Joe Owmby of the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

Statements by the arresting officer and at least one witness did not mention force applied to Casey's throat during the fight.

The Harris County District Attorney will now decide whether or not to file charges in the case.

Investigators said Casey had a history of mental illness.

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