published Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Taser did not contribute to death, autopsy reveals


by Jacqueline Koch

PDF: Lamar autopsy

Previous Erlanger statement

“This is a tragic situation and one that Erlanger is taking very seriously. Our hearts go out to all the families involved. Let me assure you that we are reviewing all aspects of this situation and fully cooperating with all ongoing investigations. Once all the information about this incident is known, appropriate actions will be taken.” — CEO Jim Brexler

Many factors may have made a 53-year-old man more prone to death, but being stunned with a Taser was not one of them, according to an autopsy released by the Hamilton County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Edward Buckner died Nov. 27, shortly after he was stunned with a Taser by an Erlanger security officer. Hamilton County Medical Examiner Dr. Frank King ruled the death natural, caused by a blood clot in the lungs.

“In my opinion, the Taser event did not cause the death or make a significant contribution to the death,” Dr. King wrote. “At autopsy there were no significant injuries or signs of foul play.”

Mr. Buckner’s family declined comment when reached by phone Tuesday and referred questions to its attorney, James Logan Jr. of Cleveland.

Mr. Logan did not return messages seeking comment Tuesday.

Chattanooga police said that, at the time of his death, Mr. Buckner, who was a patient at the Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute, was being treated for dehydration developed from diabetes at Erlanger. He was being released from the hospital when he started fighting with hospital police, officials said.

Officer Shane Webb used a Taser on him before Mr. Buckner was taken back to Moccasin Bend and found unresponsive. He was then returned to Erlanger and pronounced dead.

According to the autopsy, Mr. Buckner died about 2:20 p.m., though an exact time is not known. The medical examiner’s office was notified about 3:40 p.m., records show.

The official cause of death, bilateral pulmonary emboli, occurs when one or more arteries in the lungs become blocked, according to the Mayo Clinic. In most cases, the condition is caused by blood clots that travel to the lungs from other parts of the body, typically the legs. Mr. Buckner had a blood clot in his right leg, the autopsy shows.

Symptoms include a sudden shortness of breath, chest pain and a cough that may contain blood, according to the clinic.

Risk factors include being confined to a bed for a long period of time and dehydration, which may thicken the blood and make clots more likely, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Toxicology reports showed that Mr. Buckner tested positive for the antidepressant Citalopram, whose lesser side effects include agitation, confusion and trouble breathing, according to the Mayo Clinic. Rare side effects include irritability, dryness of mouth, increased thirst, seizures or unusual tiredness, or weakness.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation opened a case file on the incident on Nov. 30. Because the investigation involves potential wrongdoing, not just that related to the death, the case has not been closed, said TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm.

“Just because the autopsy shows it was natural causes doesn’t mean our investigation is closed,” she said. “It’s just one part of our investigation. We take everything into account — the autopsy and witness statements and subject statements and any lab work.”

Results are then turned over to the Hamilton County district attorney’s office, which determines whether to bring charges.

Erlanger hospital officials said once they study the medical examiner’s report and the results of the Chattanooga police investigation, they will complete a thorough internal review and respond accordingly, according to a statement released by the hospital.

“With full recognition that this was an unfortunate and tragic event, we now know the results of the medical examiner’s report and can now move forward and complete our own review,” the statement said.

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KWVeteran said...

Allow me to ask the question of the taser in a different way. If this man were not tasered by the police, would he have died about 2:20 pm? Tasers should be removed from the police. There have been far too many deaths nationwide caused by the device.

December 16, 2009 at 7:50 a.m.
enufisenuf said...

I agree with your question but we all know it will not be addressed. Can you say COVER UP? We need to make the governmanr officials, on every level, accountable, by whatever means nessecary, for their actions and their decisions, especially when it has a negative impact upon the citizens they are supposed to be serving. How about a Dick Cheney hunting excursion.

December 16, 2009 at 8:37 a.m.
Exusiai said...

enufisenuf

How is this a Government cover up?

Erlanger is a non-profit, academic teaching center affiliated with the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. Erlanger is also a Level-One Trauma Center for adults and the only provider of tertiary care services for the citizens of an entire four-state region, encompassing southeast Tennessee, north Georgia, north Alabama and western North Carolina. With a history that dates back more than a century, Erlanger is recognized as one of the nation's finest public hospitals and a leader in healthcare.

Source: http://www.erlanger.org/body.cfm?id=38

ERLANGER IS NOT A GOVERNMENT FACILITY! It is privately owned. Erlanger security is PRIVATE SECURITY, not Government contracted.

This would be the same thing as if your Bank Security Guard had tasered some one, neither the bank or the guard are on government payroll.

There is no cover up

Seriously people. FACT CHECK! Before you write.

December 16, 2009 at 9:05 a.m.
whoknows said...

Just to say... Set aside the fact that it is privately owned, I'm addressing KWVets comment. "Tasers should be removed from the police. There have been far too many deaths nationwide caused by the device." By that logic, we should take away the guns of our police. They kill more people than do Tasers. Also, we should take away any batons, nightsticks or other blunt objects they may use to strike someone, as they have the ability to kill if someone is struck just right or had an unknown condition. Geeze, even their hands and feet can be used as weapons with killing potential. So let's do this. Anyone who wants to be a cop, we should just cut off their arms and legs, dress them up and stick them in a wheelchair on a street corner with a whistle in their mouth. Anytime they see someone doing something wrong, they can just blow the whistle until the person stops. Tasers are a non-lethal device used to subdue someone who is out of control. It is very rare that someone actually dies after the use of a taser. It is much safer for the officer to use a taser than it is for them to try and manhandle someone, and it is safer for the person they are trying to subdue for the officer to use the taser rather than their gun. Was the officer (private officer) using excessive force? Possibly, but I wasn't there and haven't read a story confirming or denying if he was... And to answer your question: we don't know if he would have died that day had he not been tazed. A deep vein thrombosis can be fatal at any time if it is undetected. Many things could have set his death into motion. Is that a reason to leave the officers unprotected? No.

December 16, 2009 at 9:29 a.m.
Exusiai said...

55 Taser-Related Deaths in the United States in 2009 SOURCE: http://electronicvillage.blogspot.com/2009/05/taser-related-deaths-in-united-states.html

In a review of nearly 1,000 cases, 99.7 percent of those subjected to Taser use had mild injuries, such as scrapes and bruises, or none at all, Bozeman said. Only three subjects suffered injuries severe enough to need hospital admission.

Two other subjects died after being shot by a Taser, but autopsy reports indicated neither death was related to the use of a Taser.

SOURCE: http://www.physorg.com/news111080086.html

Seriously people... FACTS! ... Facts are important things. Anytime someone starts spouting nonsense such as this, I like to pull out a FACT, and wack em over the head with it.

December 16, 2009 at 9:48 a.m.
Exusiai said...

BTW... My Original point was 55??? is Far to many? As opposed to how many lives they have Saved?

December 16, 2009 at 9:49 a.m.
seyville said...

Hopefully, Ms Kochs is aware that all medication, and especially anti-depressants, have side effects that can increase the conditions they were designed to treat. The excuse in the article is just that an excuse. It's like those sweepstakes that tell you you've won IF if you are the 50TH person to respond. The key word being IF. It's never revealed who that 50TH person was to respond and no one knows who or IF anyone ever received the prize.

That saying, yes, there is a possibility of adverse reactions especially to anti-depressant medications: combative behavior, suicidal thoughts and tendancies, rapid heart rates, lethargy, increased depression etc. However, this victim of police ignorants apparently would have been too weak to become combative in the first place, unless the Medical Examiner's own findings are wrong.

No one's buying these excuses for this victim's death. No matter the Medical Examiner's findings, using a taser on an obvious seriously ill individual increased his chances of dying on the spot, period! It doesn't matter if he'd have died a day, week, month, six months or a year later. The question remains, would he have died at that point and time if he had not been tasered? Furthermore, for this man to have been so ill, why was he released back to the Bend in the first place? According to the Medical Examiner's report, this man still required serious medical attention. That makes Erlanger negligent. So was he dismissed in such an obvious weaken and sickly condition because he was one of the many uninsured? If so, SHAME! SHAME! Erlanger! You receive federal dollars just to treat the uninsured and under-insured. Shame on YOU!

December 16, 2009 at 9:59 a.m.
Exusiai said...

seyville,

Do you get your facts from a magic 8 ball?

If you go to ANY doctor complaining of Dehydration, they will not check you or Treat you for anything other than the complaint. So If they took Mr Buckner to the hospital and said "He's Dehydrated", then the hospital will not check you for blood clots. Thats not negligence. From what I'm reading this condition is one of those you can't really detect, so how were they neglegent?

December 16, 2009 at 10:16 a.m.
bell_fighter said...

Whoknows trust me police are far from unprotected.All this goes back to the training of the officers in question.WHY was a taser used on this man 3 times?What the 1st time did not work,was the officer TRAINED properly as to where to fire this taser.Tasers CAN be lethal if fired too close to the heart.TRAINING,TRAINING,TRAINING,that is what is important here,too many officers are losing their cools in these situations and people are dying.Coverup...maybe or maybe not however I have observed that the higher the ladder goes the BIG BOYS do not want to take responsibility for the mistakes these officers are making against people with mental problems or disabilities.Officers need to be able to take control of the situation not the situation take control of them.

December 16, 2009 at 10:25 a.m.
Exusiai said...

bell fighter

Again FACTS

"Stunned three times" was this by the same security officer? If so then he was carrying three Tasers. Because anyone who has ever operated a Taser knows that after you fire it once you have to reload the Leads, cause if not your holding a taser with Wires leading to the target.

Not to mention I just went and read the articles related to this, where does it say he was stunned three times?

SOURCE FACTS

come on people!

December 16, 2009 at 10:36 a.m.
enufisenuf said...

Exusiai, are you a cop, hospital worker or just dumb? Facts, studies, reports are falsified all the time to support whatever party wants ot be exonerated, it's called the good ol boy syndrome and is more prevelent in this part of the country than anywhere I have ever lived. Maybe you need to step away from your tunnel vision perspective, and open you eyes to the BIG picture. I doubt seriously this person would have died of dehydration at the very moment he did without the taser. Your not too bright, opinionated out of ignorance, yes but that is all

December 16, 2009 at 10:47 a.m.
enufisenuf said...

Exusiai, perhaps powers to be, corporate, or management would be terms more understanding to you. Cops cover their butts all the time, to prevent being sued for their actions and it could have well been a favor to someone for the lab report put the blame else where. Any cover up would work to keep tasers on the street. It's called coruption but it is only illegal when the citizen does it, not the government, corporate, cops or the wealthy. We need chnge more than ever in this country but it has to be done by the people not the government.

December 16, 2009 at 10:53 a.m.
whoknows said...

Exusiai, I'd just give up now. Some people are just too ignorant to ever get it. I think enufisenuf just proved that. No matter what you say, their heads remain empty of logical thought. Even with the story right in front of them, they cannot get the facts straight (i.e. enuf, the man did not die of dehydration. That was not a contributing factor to his death. Read the story and try to understand.). Sometimes, it's hopeless.

December 16, 2009 at 11:01 a.m.
bell_fighter said...

Exusia I am actually amazed that the only thing you want to focus on in my remark is how many times this man was tasered."IF" I am right or wrong about how many times this man was tasered it still does not change the question as to WHY WAS THIS FORCE USED ON THIS MAN IN THE FIRST PLACE,HELLO.Let me say again TRAINING,TRAINING,TRAINING!

December 16, 2009 at 11:06 a.m.
Exusiai said...

enufisenuf

No I am not a cop, hospital worker, nor am I dumb. You however seem to be ignoring some simple facts in this issue.

The "Officer" involved in this case is not a City or County official, he was a member of a private orginizations police force. So the County has no interest in "covering this up good ol boy style"... I'm bright enough to be able to Read the FACTS.

Take note while I agree the altercation with the security guards may have dislodged the blod clot (an altercation he started) but so could getting up to go pee.

There is no evidence other than you and others crying "TASERS ARE EVIL" and "Massive Government coverup"

WHY, what does the government GAIN out of covering up for a Private citizen? this is Called Motive, and there is no motive for such an Act. This is not uninformed, this is common sense and Logic.

You call for change from the people, to end a corrupt Government, how will you do that when PEOPLE are corrupt.

December 16, 2009 at 11:30 a.m.
Exusiai said...

bell fighter

Force (NON LETHAL FORCE) was used on this man because he was a threat to either himself, or others.

Tell you what bell, lets put you in a "what if"

Lets say your helping a guy get into his truck. and suddenly he Starts beating the crap out of you, what are you going to do, stand there and take it, or will you resist him and Attempt to get him stop in some way, and What way would you use?

December 16, 2009 at 11:32 a.m.
enufisenuf said...

Exusiai, I'm gonna guess your a democrat because you are blind, brainwashed, ignorant and just what this society doesn't need. The hospitl doesn't want to be sued, so the test results ironically absolve the cop, private or not from any wrongduing. Sometimes, the facts are not what they appear to be, but gullible people like you can't see that. You would have made a great loyalist in the 1700 because you do not have the foresight or visions of the people who founded this country to see beyond the BS

December 16, 2009 at 1:36 p.m.
Exusiai said...

enufisenuf

I'm a free thinker. I'm neither Dem or Rep. I choose to think the way I feel. I know thats hard to understand when most people these days are led around by FOX news and CNN and others.

I look at this situation, and all I see is a bunch of conspiracy nuts accusing this man's death on the taser, when that may not be the case.

The coroner's report may be TRUE The man may have died from natural causes.

We don't know. I don't know, and neither do you.

The point is that it violates this mans constitutional right to say "HE KILLED HIM WITH HIS TASER"

The security officer in question is Innocent until proven guilty. PERIOD. thats in the bill of rights.

Also to start screaming conspiracy theory is just plain paranoid. Seriously

the Hamilton County Coroner's Office, has decided for what ever reason to cover up the "true" reason for a man's death to Protect a Pee On Security guard? A rent a Cop? Really?

Seriously people think about the realisim behind your accusations. HAd it been like the Chief of Police... ok I could see it... had it been .. the Sherriff I could see it.

Officer Webb who the heck cares about him enough to cover him up. He's not a county employee, he's not a city employee... is he related to someone important? As far as I can tell Realisticly there is not reason to cover up for this man.

Erlanger is not a County or city hospital, it's a Private Corporation... Again, why a government cover up for a non government orginization.

Feisability folks, no one has yet to provide a "FEISABLE" reason why the GOVERNMENT would cover up an NON GOVERMENT problem.

December 16, 2009 at 3:52 p.m.
rolando said...

Here's an idea...a tongue-in-cheek one.

Let's take all TASERs away from the police and folks acting like police.

Then all they have left to control violent people is their .40S&Ws. Let's see...a double tap should work...or maybe they should use the old 43-rounds-fired scenario.

Or they could all get together and rodneyking the guy to the ground with their nightsticks.

Either one of those should make great video on YouTube.

Alternatively, the cops could just turn their backs and let the dude rave, scattering victims helter-skelter [word choice deliberate].

Get serious, people. The guards were doing their job and doing it well. They used less than lethal force to subdue a violent perp...and subdue him they did. Personally, I thank each and every one of them.

I use Erlanger Baroness a LOT. Nut cases -- violent ones -- I do NOT need, especially since I cannot carry in a hospital.

December 16, 2009 at 9:30 p.m.
ERNURSE said...

So many of you are clueless as to what goes on in an Emergency Room when you have a mental patient in a psychotic crisis, or an uncooperative patient with a blood alcohol of 300+, or a patient that has enough drugs in their system to classify them as a walking pharmacy.

Why don't you walk in my shoes for a few weeks. I have been hit, kicked, spit upon, clawed, thrown against the wall, had objects thrown at me and any other violent act one of these type patients can figure out to do to you.

There have been times that if I had had a taser or a pistol I would have felt justified in using them. There have been many times that I just pray that I am not hurt too badly before the police arrive. Some of these patients take 6-8 people to physically restrain them so that they don't hurt themselves or the staff that is trying to care for them. Don't talk to me about "excessive force" when you have a totally irrational 250 pound man who is psychotic, wild eyed and in a boiling rage that is aimed at you. No force would be too excessive if it were you. Because you are NOT going to calm him down with words. If it were you you would be praying for an officer with a taser to come around the corner at any second. I guarantee you that.

I don't work at Erlanger. I don't know what happened that day. I think that it is tragic that a man died, whatever the circumstances. But, most any mental patient can become a dangerous patient at a moment's notice. And security's first priority is to protect the staff and himself and bring the situation under control. If that takes using a taser, then it needs to be used.

Hospital security where I work doesn't carry tasers or firearms. We have to wait until city or county officers arrive to have full protection from violent patients and pray that we can maintain some degree of control until they get to us.

So, please, don't make assumptions about what happened unless you have been there on the receiving end of a violent patient. And if you ever are, and I hope that you aren't, then your opinion about the use of a taser just might change.

December 16, 2009 at 11:57 p.m.
Exusiai said...

rolando, if they take away the tasers I'm for the Riot shotguns with rock salt..

December 17, 2009 at 12:57 a.m.
fp said...

Tasers kill. Tasers can cause serious damage to health. Tasers should be banned from use by police. My son was tasered 9 times for sleeping in his automobile in front of my home in the parking lot. Nine times, nine times. His thigh has a hole burned in it. He has since developed post tramatic stress disorder. Imagine being awaken from sleep by someone tasering you, not one time but nine times. Court records document this tasering incident. Tasers are dangerous and police officers are cruel and careless and think it's funny to taser young people. Tasers should be banned from use in all situations, and I pray that everyone who supports this widespread use of tasers are tased repeatedly to allow their minds to have fear and disorientation burned in their memories and to have a huge scar burned into their skin and to have their life taken from them like they took from this man. I pray only for the misfortune of all police officers who use tasers and do so in the name of public service. Of course if this person had not been tased, he would not be dead. It's that simple, don't ever think otherwise. Police officers will gladly kill you too and try to cover over their misdeed just like now and so many times in the past. You think they won't do such a thing to you or your child, but they will happily taser you both and feel superior while doing killing you and your loved ones; taking life from them for the most simply things, things that are not even crimes such as sleeping inside their car. Police officers are hideous and far more dangerous to the people than the criminals. They contrive to do harm and even one life damaged or lost is far to heavy of a price for the public to pay.

December 17, 2009 at 3:50 a.m.
fp said...

.. tasering a person can cause a normal and intelligent person to develop a mental illness or stress disorder. Tasering is dangerous and should not be used under in circumstance. That's the bottom line. May I say that a person who works a regular job where there is daily commotion and chaos is a person who gravitates towards that sort of job and somehow 'gets off' on the power of being the one who can bully and 'bring under control' a 'situation'. Tasering causes harm to one's mental health and potentially can and does kill. No matter how it's explained to the public as to why you would taser a person, no matter how 'tame' it seems, it is barbaric and it kills. There are better ways to control situations and too many times tasers are used unnecessarily by those who want to do harm to the psychotic, to the teenager; those with tasers tend to think they are superior and can 'teach a lesson' to someone. Never think they won't taser YOU. If given the chance and opportunity, people who have use of tasers will taser others. People who use tasers love and seek out the thrill of getting to taser another person.

December 17, 2009 at 4:08 a.m.
Exusiai said...

"Tasers kill. My son was tasered. He's still alive"

You just contridicted yourself.

I'm fairly certian if your son was tasered, he was violating the law in some way. The story your child gave you (because no child on the face of the planet is 100% honest, and if you say he is you've deluded yoruself) was not the true account of the situation.

Use of force is an escelation scale. There are rules involving the use of non lethal force. First you establish there are three or four Steps that preceed the use of Tasers/mace/batons. If it got to the point where Cops had to use a taser on yoru child, then he was resisting in some way form or fashion.

Sleeping in yoru car in a public parking lot is a crime. Why was he sleeping in his car in the parking lot of your home? Had you kicked him out? Was he not allowed in your home. This is called Loitering ladies and gentlemen. It is a violation of the law. And I'm sure that when the police advised him of this, he (like most children do these days) got beligerant and forced the use of force Escalation up the chart until they had to taser him.

Fp, while this story is, well not so much moving, it makes me ask all sorts of questions about you and your child. It does little to prove your point as your statements are biased, and not based on eithe rfact, or proof. you said this incident was documented, I'd like to see the police report attached to it. Just to see what caused them to tase your child.

Any police officer who is carrying a taser HAS TO go through being tasered. So they know what it feels like, so to say they think it is "Funny" implies they don't know the sensation they are inflicting.

December 17, 2009 at 9:24 a.m.
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