A 350-pound asthmatic man was sleeping on the couch at his Fort Worth, Texas, home on May 16 when the cops showed up with a warrant to search his house. They were looking for cocaine.
Jarmaine Darden had asthma severe enough that he wasn’t able to sleep lying down. He had to sleep sitting up. From Monday’s CBS DFW report, it appears Darden’s relatives were at his home when the cops showed up and let in the cops.
That didn’t stop the “zero-tolerance” officers from immediately treating the situation like a standoff with a dangerous criminal. According to the victim’s mother:
They physically pulled him off the couch because, like I said, he was asleep. They pulled him off the couch and they tried to put him on his stomach. He can’t breathe on his stomach. He don’t even lie on the bed on his stomach.
He had his hands behind his back the whole time. But me and about five other people were hollering the whole time, ‘He cannot breathe like that. Please handcuff him on his side.’
Instead, Darden’s brother said, the cops warned the victim that unless he hit the floor on his stomach so they could cuff him, he’d get hit with the Taser. He didn’t — he couldn’t — and then they used the Taser on him. Darden immediately started having trouble breathing. They used the Taser on him again. In total, cops used the Taser on Darden three times. Then, he stopped breathing. Shortly after the 4 p.m. “raid” was over, an ambulance came and took Darden to the hospital; compression CPR was administered on the way. But Darden never revived. His relatives, including his two teenage sons, are in shock.
“He wasn’t resisting. He was actually trying to lay on his side, so they could handcuff him on his side, because that pressure on his lungs will cut off his air and he’ll stop breathing,” said Darden’s mother, who was at the scene. She told WFAA that she and other relatives kept pleading with the cops, “He can’t breathe like that — he’s not fighting you.”
Darden had one drug conviction on his record and, as part of his probation, took — and passed — frequent random drug tests.
In their incident report, police noted that Darden resisted arrest. Five others in the house were arrested, but there’s no mention of any drugs being found. And the only thing police are saying to the media is that they were “met with resistance” at the home.
Darden’s death marks the fifth time someone’s died after being shocked with a Taser by Fort Worth police since 2001. The department settled with the family of one victim (a man who died after being shocked for an astonishing 49 seconds in 2009), paying out $2 million in an agreement that saw the offending officer keep his job without reprimand. The department admitted to no wrongdoing, despite the fact the death was ruled a homicide.