Linwood Lambert: Virginia Man Tased 20 Times, Dies In Police Custody

Linwood Lambert reportedly died in police custody after being tased a total of 20 times. Although the Virginia man’s official cause of death was determined to be “acute cocaine intoxication,” his family believes the officers contributed to his death — as they used excessive force.

On May 4, 2013, the South Boston Police Department was dispatched to a Super 8 Motel on reports of an unruly guest. When the arrived on scene, the officers found Linwood Lambert in a state of obvious confusion. According to reports, the 46-year-old man was having paranoid delusions “about dead bodies.”

Although he was not arrested, or charged with a crime, the officers took Lambert into custody so they could transport him to Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital for a mental health evaluation.

WTVR reports Linwood was somewhat agitated during the ride. However, the officers arrived at the hospital without incident. Unfortunately, Linwood became combative while the police cruiser was parked outside the emergency room.

As evidenced in a several video clips, Lambert began struggling against his restraints, and eventually kicked through one of the windows. When the officers opened the cruiser door, the man proceeded to run toward the building and slam into a glass door.

The officers verbally commanded the man to calm down. However, as he refused to comply, the they began tasing Linwood Lambert with their stun guns.

As reported by MSNBC, the man fell to the ground and eventually admitted he used cocaine back in his hotel room. He was subsequently arrested on charges of destruction of property and disorderly conduct.

Although they originally brought him to the hospital for a mental health evaluation, the officers placed Lambert back into the police cruiser — where he continued to struggle against his restraints. In response, the officers tased the suspect until he was subdued.

Taser International, which provides stun guns to the South Boston Police Department, confirmed Linwood Lambert was tased a total of 20 times within a period of 30 minutes.

When the officers arrived at the jail, and attempted to rouse the suspect, he was unresponsive. Although he was transported back to the Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital, Lambert was pronounced dead on arrival.

As reported by, stun guns are “deployed 904 times per day” by civilians, law enforcement officials, and the military. The website further argues that Tasers “have saved more than 155,000 lives from death or serious personal injuries.”

However, a number of deaths, including that of Linwood Lambert, have raised questions about their safety.

Most Tasers are designed to deliver approximately 50,000 volts of electricity in a period of five seconds. Although most people are incapacitated with the first jolt, they usually recover within seconds.

Many law enforcement agencies use stun guns, as they are an effective, and non-lethal, method of immobilizing a suspect. However, the use of Tasers has become a point of heated controversy, as they are blamed in numerous deaths.

In response to the ongoing criticism, United States Department of Justice published a set of guidelines for the use of stun guns during police work. As stated in the 2011 report, electronic control weapons, which include Tasers, “have been cited by medical authorities as a cause of, or contributing factor in, some deaths.”

To prevent unnecessary injury, or death, the DOJ identified several “common factors that appear to be associated with fatal and other serious outcomes.” Those factors include repeated application of the ECW, exposure which “exceeds 15 seconds in duration,” and the application of multiple ECWs at the same time.

Therefore, the DOJ determined “officers must be trained to understand that repeated applications and continuous cycling of ECWs may increase the risk of death or serious injury and should be avoided.”

Former ATF agent Jim Cavanaugh, who reviewed the video footage of Linwood’s arrest, said the South Boston Police officers obviously used “excessive force through excessive use of a Taser… on a prisoner who is in a dire medical condition, and is restrained already.” Cavanaugh said that the footage was “very disturbing” to watch.

Linwood Lambert’s sister Gwendolyn Smalls agrees with the former agent’s assessment. She subsequently filed a $25 million lawsuit against the South Boston Police Department and the officers who used Tasers on her late brother.

[Image via Shutterstock / Stephen Coburn]

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