Former Police Chief Dies After Being Tased

Washington, PA – Former police chief, 49-year-old Darryl Briston, was pronounced dead, after an altercation with officers. Briston had been fired from his job as police chief of Rankin, Pennsylvania in 2003 after being convicted of stealing more than $5,000.

While attending the Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington County, Washington, Pennsylvania last weekend, Briston crossed paths with his estranged wife and her male companion.

Per CBS News, according to the police report:

“Briston approached the couple and punched the man in the face and ran away. He had a history of domestic violence.” In 2009, Briston had been arrested for allegedly assaulting an ex-girlfriend, but charges were dismissed due to a lack of evidence.

Local police managed to apprehend him less than a mile from the casino grounds. However, while being arrested for assault, Briston failed to comply with the officer’s instructions. He was warned and, when he continued to refuse compliance, was tased in the leg. He was taken into custody without further resistance. Shortly after being placed in the squad car, Briston expressed difficulty breathing and an onset of chest pains and went into cardiac arrest.

Cardiac arrest is a sudden, unexpected loss of heart function, breathing, and consciousness. It can result from a disruptive electrical disturbance in the heart. Cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack, which occurs when blood flow to a portion of the heart is blocked. Without immediate medical attention and CPR, death can occur within minutes.

Police requested an ambulance. Unfortunately, Briston was pronounced dead upon arrival at Canonsburg General Hospital. An autopsy is pending regarding the official cause of his death.

The use of tasers has been a hot topic since its inception as standard equipment for officers. The make and model of the taser used on Briston was not available. However, based on a New York Times published study, it is possible the taser was responsible for the cardiac arrest. The study analyzed records from the eight separate cases of people who went into cardiac arrest after receiving shocks from a Taser X26. Seven of the people in the study died; one survived. This particular model of taser inflicts 50,000 volts.