LOCAL Announcement :: Crime and Police

No charges against cops in Taser death

JERSEYVILLE -- Two police officers have been cleared of criminal responsibility in the death of a teen who they shocked twice with a Taser.
Roger Holyfield Jr. was 17 when he died Oct. 29, 2006, one day after the incident along State Street. Police Officers Todd Wagner and Matt Witt had responded to the area after a citizen complaint, said Jerseyville Police Chief Brad Blackorby, in a written statement issued Tuesday.

Holyfield was sitting on the curb near a busy intersection, and was carrying a cordless house phone. He was shouting for Jesus. When police tried to subdue him, a struggle broke out.

"He was obviously incoherent, and it was unknown whether he was on drugs and/or alcohol," Blackorby said.

After he was handcuffed, police jolted Holyfield twice with the Taser. He died a day later in a St. Louis hospital.

An autopsy, however, revealed that Holyfield had suffered from a medical condition that kept oxygen from his brain.

Blackorby said Tuesday that the officers had followed established procedures and practices. He added that the officers were very upset about Holyfield's death but maintained that it was "an unaviodable accident."

Holyfield's family has filed a civil suit over the incident.

The family said through their attorney today that they are disappointed that criminal charges will not be pursued.

"The officers’ prolonged abuse and restraint of Roger was, at least, reckless, as they surely knew their actions would result in injury or death," they said in a statement. "Their behavior was especially egregious given that they were detaining Roger for, at most, alleged disorderly conduct, an ordinance violation."

Blackorby said the suit and subsequent court hearing will bring out the truth of the case.

"There is no evidence that the use of the Taser by the officers had anything to do with his death," the chief said.

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An inglorious peace is better than a dishonorable war.
-- Mark Twain
Source: "Glances at History" (suppressed)

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