‘48 marks on his back’ — How Tasers figure into deaths in police custody


The Rockdale police summary of how Rosendo Gaytan died on Halloween night 2006 during his arrest for public intoxication is clinical and brief: “While in the booking area of the Milam County Jail the subject continued to be uncompliant and assaultive. Taser was utilized in an attempt to gain subject’s compliance. While subject was being restrained he became unresponsive.”

Gaytan, 52, was flown to Austin in a coma, according to police and medical reports. He died four days later.

An investigation by the Texas Rangers, completed three months after his death, contained a much more detailed — and troubling — narrative of Gaytan’s final minutes.

Gaytan had dozens of Taser marks on his back. More dotted other parts of his body. A civilian witness interviewed by the Rangers said he saw police shock Gaytan’s neck. An officer on the scene reported seeing sparks flying from Gaytan’s chest, where Taser darts had lodged.

His sister, Neomi Garcia, who lives in nearby Bartlett, can still recite the results from memory: “He had 48 marks on his back, six marks on his chest area, and he had four marks on his arm and two marks on his foot. They even tased him twice after he was unconscious.”

Gaytan is not the only person who died in police restraint after officers used so-called electric control weapons in questionable ways, the American-Statesman found. The paper examined more than 280 incidents in which people died during or shortly after being taken into police custody over the past decade. Police used Tasers on 87 of those people.

In addition to instances in which police deployed their stun guns up to dozens of times on suspects, the newspaper’s review found fatal encounters in which officers used the weapons in ways contrary to professional guidelines. The weapon was used disproportionately on African-Americans, and experts acknowledge that many departments don’t train according to the Taser company’s recommendations.

For the full story, click here



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Transgender woman convicted of sexually assaulting 10-year-old in bathroom
Transgender woman convicted of sexually assaulting 10-year-old in bathroom

A Wyoming transgender woman was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl in a bathroom, the Billings Gazette reported Wednesday.  A 12-person jury found Michelle Martinez, who was known as Miguel Martinez before identifying as a female, guilty of first-degree and second-degree sexual abuse of a minor. Martinez could face...
Trial in boyfriend’s death jeopardized over medical examiner’s testimony
Trial in boyfriend’s death jeopardized over medical examiner’s testimony

A Travis County judge is threatening to dismiss murder charges against man who is on trial for beating his boyfriend to death because a medical examiner revealed unexpectedly that he amended his official finding on the victim’s cause of death. State district Judge David Wahlberg on Thursday told lawyers in Bryan Canchola’s trial that he...
Report: Tech companies to lobby for ‘Dreamers’ to stay in US
Report: Tech companies to lobby for ‘Dreamers’ to stay in US

Nearly two dozen companies in technology -- including Google, Microsoft, Facebook and other industries -- are planning to launch a coalition to demand legislation that would allow young, undocumented immigrants a path to permanent residency, Reuters reported. Citing documents, Reuters reported that the Coalition for the American Dream intends...
Florida teacher accused of molesting 13-year-old girl
Florida teacher accused of molesting 13-year-old girl

A Florida teacher and another man have been arrested after being accused of molesting a 13-year-old girl in a school classroom, Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies said.  Teacher and soccer coach, Sonny Juarez, 29, faces charges of lewd and lascivious molestation, which occurred between November 2016 until March 2017, WFLA reported...
Vegas homeowners remove shooting-themed Halloween display
Vegas homeowners remove shooting-themed Halloween display

The owners of a Las Vegas home have removed a Halloween display featuring the gravestones of the recent mass shooting victims after neighbors and social media users found it distasteful. The front yard display included a faux cemetery with 58 headstones reading “RIP” for each person who lost their life in the tragedy. Each gravestone...
More Stories