A New Mexico State Police officer used a Taser on a wrong way driver, 74-year-old Roger Charlet, on Jan. 4 in Deming, New Mexico. Charlet died on Jan. 12, which has raised questions about the Taser use (video below).
“From all accounts, it looks like an excessive use of force to me,” Peter Simonson, Executive Director for the ACLU of New Mexico, told KRQE News 13.
“It looks like they didn’t give him much time to comply before they fired the electronic control device,” Simonson added.
In a police dash cam video of the incident, the police stop Charlet on Interstate 10, yank the senior out of his van, and quickly use a Taser on him. Charlet grabs his chest and falls to the ground.
Police have said that Charlet was drunk and resisting arrest.
Charlet died in his home eight days later. Charlet's wife said she is concerned that the taser incident did something to his heart, but she couldn't know for sure without an autopsy.
“At the end of the day, maybe this complies with their policy, maybe this complies with federal law around the use of lethal force, but did it have to go this way?” Simonson said.
Simonson referred the news station to a report by the ACLU of Northern California that read, "According to Dr. Zian Tseng, cardiologist at the University of California at San Francisco, if the Taser sends its energy to the heart at the wrong time, the electricity may cause ventricular fibrillation, a state in which the heart muscles spasm uncontrollably, disrupting the hearts pumping function and causing death.
"Dr. Kathy Glatter of the University of California Davis Medical School agrees: 'If I hit the heart or create electricity in the wrong time of the (beat) cycle, it could send the whole heart into an electrical tailspin.'"
New Mexico State Police did not run an internal investigation, and refused to comment anymore because they believe the use of the taser was proper and not associated with Charlet’s death.