Comments

  1. DR says

    let’s see how long it takes to spin this into “homophobic officers kill gay porn star”

    looks like the officers did all they could, took his choking seriously, and got him help ASAP. let this be a lesson about swallowing bags of drugs. not safe.

  2. Derek in Madison says

    Oh my god that video was disturbing.

    I literally just watched a man violently die from start to finish.

    Yes, it was his fault, but damn, brutal to watch.

    Can’t believe they showed that on primetime news.

    Wow.

  3. DR says

    @ Keith

    Yes, a misdemeanor. And while I don’t live in Florida, absent a record, he probably would have walked with probation or fines.

    I didn’t say it before, but what a waste of a life. I’m stunned at this.

  4. says

    I dunno – I’ve been wondering lately about the excessive use of the TASER by law enforcement officials. Rather than use it as a means of last resort they seem to be relying on it to solve all resistance problems.

    But then again – law enforcement is a tough field and enforcement professionals usually correctly assess the situation and react accordingly in most of the cases. This is just an unfortunate situation all around.

    Poor thing, what a way to go at 23……

  5. says

    I am a litle surprised at the “war on drugs, anti taser” talk. This guy was fucking up and the police used a method way better than a gun to solve a problem. How could they know dumbass had swallowed a baggie? Would you rather they had shot him or just let him go after he was manhandling a female?

    I feel bad for the guy, but, it was his fault. I’m sure the cops feel horrible and have said in their heads many times, “why?”

  6. Rann says

    I am not sure of the value of watching someone choke to death. I have no desire to see it. I think it is disgusting for the station to put the footage out there really. I hope his family does not see it. How horrible… I can not imagine why he would choose to do that. He was most likely not thinking clearly. I am sorry anyone has to go like that.

  7. Yeek says

    As painful and uncomfortable as the taser is, the whole reason there hasn’t been a class-action lawsuit against the manufacturers of them is that the evidence is irrefutable: the fatality is far lower with tasers than it was with restraints (or guns, of course) before they showed up. Death from simple restraint during “agitated delerium” was a well-known, common problem back in the day.

    This is the type of lawsuit that attorneys would rip each other apart to get their hands on if the stats weren’t so ironclad, but they are. It doesn’t mean tasers aren’t at times used inappropriately or with malice, and I respect that position and criticism. Those individual cases of brutality should be prosecuted. But the death rate is lower with them than without them. That’s a small consolation to this poor man’s family, but it’s still an important fact to consider.

  8. HomoDM says

    @ Derek: Were it not for the War on Drugs, “dumbass” would not have felt so scared of being caught with some pot that he would have tried to swallow it.

  9. Glenn says

    “the evidence is irrefutable: the fatality is far lower with tasers than it was with restraints (or guns, of course) before they showed up. Death from simple restraint during “agitated delerium” was a well-known, common problem back in the day.”

    Any source for this “evidence” other than the TASER company itself? Or that “agitated delirium” is actually recognized by anyone as a legitimate mental condition?

  10. Jeff In Boston says

    It’s a fucked up society in which a man dies ultimately because pot is illegal — and then people defend the death as somehow unavoidable because the cops were “just doing their job.” Shame on everyone who does so.

  11. clint says

    Yes, this is definitely another nail in the coffin of the war on drugs, I hope at least. This is also a case of the Darwin Award, when a not so bright guy in a stressful situation makes a fatal choice. All around bad karma here, as in an unfortunate chain of events not some sort of retribution; I’m sure the officers feel horrible about the whole thing too.

  12. CKNJ says

    Wow… it takes 3 cops to NOT be able to cuff a suspect that is ALREADY on the ground semi-restrained? Not a good showing by the ‘force’ and I agree about the statements against the ‘War on Drugs’… unnecessary bullshit that led to a needless death. What a shame… and really sad to see a guy die like that…

  13. Mark in Austin TX says

    Bravo Jeff in Boston. Stupid laws drive people to stupid actions. This young man died because of fear of ridiculous anti-drug laws and the “war” on drugs which tends to be a war on the poor and disenfranchised disproportionately. I’m not excusing his alleged assault– certainly the police were correct in responding to that. It was his fear of the consequences due to his pot possession that ultimately caused his death. What a sad loss.

  14. says

    Wicked sad. Tasers are so freaking dangerous. They should be banned, as far as I’m concerned — and not simply used for mere ‘resistance.’ Three cops should absolutely be able to subdue a person in that situation without electrocuting them.

    I also agree with what others have said above: it was pot, for god’s sake. It shouldn’t even be illegal. This is taking the “War on Drugs” to absurd extremes. It should be regulated, taxed and sold like cigarettes. And that’s coming from someone who’s never smoked pot in his life.

  15. says

    @Derek Washington: “the police used a method way better than a gun to solve a problem”

    Really? You obviously lack perspective. Let me educate you for a second:

    1) Tasers are supposed to be gun alternatives. That means, in situations where the use of a gun would otherwise be justified (e.g., an officer’s safety is in danger) a Taser is used as a life-saving alternative. Tasers ARE NOT meant to be pacification devices!!! They were never introduced as such yet they’re continually used in that manner.

    2) Escalation in force: a) Strength (this includes baton use). b) Strength in Numbers. c) Pepper Spray. d) Taser. e) Gun.

    What steps were missed in this encounter?

    3) Tear gas, rubber bullets, “mosquito” sirens, and microwave emitters are pacification and dispersal devices. Tasers are not.

    4) A few months back, national news was made when an otherwise healthy person suffered cardiac arrest at the end of a taser. It turns out the good folks who make Tasers released a usage bulletin telling officers they should AVOID using a taser in the torso area and, if it’s unavoidable, to aim for the lower torso. Watch the video. The guy was pulling the barbs out of his chest. Someone didn’t get the memo.

    Tasers are a real problem. They’re a problem because they’re being abused by cops on a daily basis. Cops who forget that they were taught hand-to-hand combat in academy; cops who don’t want to deal with the inconvenience of blowback from pepperspray; cops who view a 5000-Volt jolt as acceptable pain to inflict on someone who doesn’t heed their instructions; cops who may be advised that tasers are acceptable alternatives to leaving lasting bruises on a suspect.

    And this is all unacceptable. Their use has to stop.

  16. TANK says

    Many law enforcement officials do tend to abuse the use of tasers, and proper training and procedure needs to be created and implemented around that. However, banning tasers? YOu do realize that if a police officer pulls a gun on you, you are going to die, right? They can’t take the chance of wounding or warning you–you will go down forever. Tasers don’t leave the same marks that batons do, either. And you simply can’t prove that tasering him is what resulted in the choking, and not swallowing the entire bag…

    As far as this is concerned, quite sad. But as far as I can tell, the police officers aren’t to blame. He chose to swallow the bag while under the influence, and the police didn’t immediately know his resistance was due to an obstructed airway (interestingly enough, an argument against intelligent design–putting an airway in the same place you swallow things that could block it is not a good design). And they figured it out and tried their best to save him. And unfortunately, it didn’t work out. He had his whole life ahead of him.

  17. says

    @Tank: If he had swallowed the bag before the tasing, it wouldn’t be stuck in his airway a minute later, would it?

    Regardless of what he put in his mouth, it can be argued that the loss of fine motor control associated with tasing resulted in the Mr. Grande unintentionally swallowing the bag and the loss of motor control may have resulted in the “swallow” not being completed.

    Either way, Mr. Grande was not assaulting an officer. At worst, he was trying to run away. The officer’s safety was not in immediate danger. As a taser is supposed to be used in life-threatening situations (check any engagement manual you want), the taser SHOULD NOT have been used.

    And there’s nothing you can say to argue otherwise.

  18. says

    Oh, and @Tank? I’d rather have a bruise the size of a policeman’s baton than risk the stoppage of my heart. How about you?

    I can tell you one person who doesn’t want you to be bruised, however… the cop. You can’t accuse him of excessive force if all you have to show for it is a copy of pinpricks.

    Your heart stopping? Well, that’s just a gamble he’s willing to take to save his own ass – in more than one way.

  19. TANK says

    “Either way, Mr. Grande was not assaulting an officer. At worst, he was trying to run away. The officer’s safety was not in immediate danger.”

    In the apprehension of a fleeing suspect, it can be.

    “As a taser is supposed to be used in life-threatening situations (check any engagement manual you want), the taser SHOULD NOT have been used.”

    Life threatening on the scene is a lot different than in the antiseptic analysis of 20/20. Further, you can’t know what isn’t life threatening from what is when a suspect is resisting arrest. Are you a mind reader?

    “And there’s nothing you can say to argue otherwise.”

    Of course there is, and I just did.

    “Regardless of what he put in his mouth, it can be argued that the loss of fine motor control associated with tasing resulted in the Mr. Grande unintentionally swallowing the bag and the loss of motor control may have resulted in the “swallow” not being completed.”

    And it can be argued just as compellingly that the bag was lodged firmly in his throat from him swallowing it, and would have resulted in the same consequence if tasers hadn’t been used.

    Lastly, the most dangerous type of call a police officer will ever receive is for domestic violence (Which this may very well have been given the description). There is no way to predict how that will go down, so they are prepared for deadly force from the suspect.

  20. TANK says

    “Your heart stopping? Well, that’s just a gamble he’s willing to take to save his own ass – in more than one way.”

    And people die from regularly non lethal blows from batons. People have died from exposure to pepper spray. Should those be dispensed with as well? How about guns? Why don’t we disband the police altogether? Would that fit your anarchist/libertarian vision?

  21. says

    Tank, if cops would have shown the ability to use tasers appropriately, then you’re But, unfortunately, the police force of this country as a whole has proven its wholly incapable of using tasers responsibly and appropriately. absolutely right — they shouldn’t be banned. And I’ve had said that months before this incident. Right now, I firmly believe tasers are getting more people killed than they are saving and way too many people are being zapped over and over again without the situation warranting it.

  22. TANK says

    Ryan, can’t you see that your issue isn’t just with the use of tasers by law enforcment, but with how tasers are being used? You should be calling for stricter regulations and guidelines for tasers than for their ban…any number of absurd counterexamples can be brought to the table…

    It’s the same with the death penalty. The issue that many opponents of the death peantly bring up is that innocent people are sometimes wrongly convicted and sentenced…but that can be applied to prisons, too–so should we give up on incarceration?…anyway, the point is that they aren’t addressing the death penalty, but errors in the system that enabled it to be incorrectly applied.

  23. RJ says

    @TANK
    “In the apprehension of a fleeing suspect, it can be.”

    So any fleeing suspect should be tasered, so that the possibility of the pursuing officer getting hit by a car or hurting himself slipping on a puddle during the chase is averted.

    “Lastly, the most dangerous type of call a police officer will ever receive is for domestic violence (Which this may very well have been given the description). There is no way to predict how that will go down, so they are prepared for deadly force from the suspect.”

    So all officers responding to domestic violence calls should immediately taser the involved parties – because there’s no way to predict how things will go down.

    Um, what happened to that thing called a police officer’s “judgment”?

    “It’s the same with the death penalty. The issue that many opponents of the death peantly bring up is that innocent people are sometimes wrongly convicted and sentenced…but that can be applied to prisons, too–so should we give up on incarceration?”

    You can overturn the conviction and free someone who has merely been imprisoned. Good luck resurrecting the dead guy after you find out he was actually innocent.

  24. TANK says

    “So any fleeing suspect should be tasered, so that the possibility of the pursuing officer getting hit by a car or hurting himself slipping on a puddle during the chase is averted.”

    Sure, if he’s evading capture. Why not? Better than getting shot, huh? And you don’t know if he’s going to pull a gun or has backup waiting while he’s fleeing.

    “So all officers responding to domestic violence calls should immediately taser the involved parties – because there’s no way to predict how things will go down.”

    Not at all. but if they’re resisting arrest, absolutely, given the heightened danger that the police are in.

    “You can overturn the conviction and free someone who has merely been imprisoned. Good luck resurrecting the dead guy after you find out he was actually innocent.”

    Nonsquitur.

  25. daws says

    Wow that was awful to see. I feel horrible for him and especially his family and loved ones to see that.

    I don’t understand the taser arguments though. Clearly he was choking before the taser hit and why he was struggling with the officers. The bag must have gotten lodged when the officers wrestled him to the ground. Nobody was at fault for his death but himself. He made a rash and incredibly stupid decision in the heat of the moment (you learn as a kid not to swallow balloons…plastic bags are in the same choking category).

  26. DR says

    Unless you’ve ever tried to force an actively resisting subject to follow your commands, you’ve no idea what you’re talking about. I’ve seen situations where it took three grown male deputies to subdue and physically redirect a 100 pound teenage girl, so I know it’s hard to get an actively resisting grown man to follow commands if he doesn’t want to. Additionally, notice how he just yanked the taser plugs out of his chest. It’s on the video, clear as day.

    We can dicker about appropriate force, but as several people have said, you’re looking at it from the perspective of hindsight AND lack of law enforcement training. From what I see, they did everything right, including cessation of the arrest when the young man indicated he was choking and shifting to attempts to save his life.

    I don’t want to be the officers who have to wake up every day wondering if they could have done more to help this guy, but in all fairness, he tried to swallow a bag and then actively resisted arrest. From what’s shown in the video, he was his own worst enemy in this case.

  27. Kyle Sullivan says

    Cops use tasers because the taser manufacturers swear they’re safe. So cops whip out one the second they have a problem and use it against anyone and everyone they damned well feel like, from 10 year old children to 80 year old grandmothers, whether the person is a danger to them or not, sometimes even when the person has not committed an offense. For example — there’s an instance where six Missouri state cops tasered a white 16 year old boy 19 times because he was lying on the ground screaming and wouldn’t get up to tell them why. Turned out the kid had a broken back and was screaming from pain. Thanks to the extreme tasering he got, doctors had to wait two weeks to begin repairing his spine so his body could heal itself from being shot so many times with 50K watts in electricity.

    The fact is, tasers kill and have killed hundreds of people in the last couple of years. When they haven’t caused the death directly, they’ve exacerbated problems that brought about a person’s death. They should be outlawed as devices of torture.

    But Americans won’t like that. We love the idea of torturing people, especially if we can use some stupid excuse like the person tortured might have been committing a crime…or even might be thinking of one, just like we’ve done to people accused of being al Qaeda sympathizers, all without a shred of evidence that they ever were. It’s fun when we’re the do-ers and not the do-ees.

    You want more on the hell of tasers? Check out http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/ where Digby’s been chronicling the disgraceful use of them as one part of a war against torture.

  28. Randy Novak says

    Big handshakes to the the police officers in this tragic situation, who did a 180 from trying to subdue a resistive suspect to rescue mode. People make stupid, tragic decisions and get themselves killed every single day. Thanks for offering to “educate” us all, TommyOC, but you’re a Cindy Sheehan-level rube.

  29. says

    I think the argument regarding the legality of marijuana is irrelevant here. This man chose to swallow the marijuana and he chose to resist arrest, both of which contributed to the officer’s decision to use the taser which caused his death. It’s a very unfortunate situation for sure. If you truly believe marijuana should be legal, than there are legal policy avenues which you can access to voice that opinion. Regardless, using marijuana in Florida is illegal and if you choose to break the law, then YOU are responsible for the outcome of your actions.

  30. Mark says

    I saw on another page this unfortunate guy had a “twitter pic” he posted of a large amount of marijuana on his kitchen table he was packing in small plastic packets and he called the post “Oregano”. Probably he was making a tidy profit. As was the escort “Scott Adler” who was caught crossing the Mexican border into California with drugs (he was on probation for drug possession). Now he sits in jail without bail and this guy is dead. Sad, I feel for their families. Them – not as much as their families.

  31. says

    they shouldnt have tased him. they could see that he’s choking. he was motioning for help. TRUtv cameras were there and they wanted to look all cool for the camera. there were SEVERAL cops on one guy. did they really need a taser to overpower him? i dont think so.

  32. Rick says

    I’m glad they showed this idiot dying on primetime TV. It’s this kind of thing that people need to see in order to snap out of the delusion that they can live a druggy lifestyle and not suffer the consequences.

    Incidentally, the headlines should be changed from “Gay Porn Actor Dustin Michaels Dies After Police Taser Drug Arrest” to “Man dies after ingesting drugs wrapped in plastic bag.”

  33. John says

    I had to stop that when they showed a close-up shot of his face and he was clearly unable to breathe – I had tears in my eyes and I can’t even imagine how bad it must have gotten after that. That video should not even exist, never mind be floating around the internet. Shame on that camera man…

  34. none says

    [BLOCKUOTE]
    I had to stop that when they showed a close-up shot of his face and he was clearly unable to breathe – I had tears in my eyes and I can’t even imagine how bad it must have gotten after that.
    [/BLOCKQUOTE]
    IMHO, it did get worse (and I say that as someone who can’t get that image from that precise moment out of my head today). I think that stopping where you did was a good idea.

    But hey, he smoked weed and pushed a girl, so fuck ‘im.

  35. Dennis says

    My only comment is that if the police seen it as the man trying to get his breath rather than risisting, they would have never used the taser, and he might still be alive today

  36. nicholas says

    To me it looks like while they were on his back – all 3 of them – he was saying something. When he got up it looked like he got up to cough the bag up. I question the brutal force the officers use to subdue him on the ground then fire off the taser when he clearly is not so much resisting but freaking out at having the bag stuck in his throat. I’m sure the taser would have helped lodge it further which is why he immediately pulls it out and starts beating his chest. Sure, he’s breaking the law but jeez, your US police really love jumping on people and pushing them into the ground.

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