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Friday, March 14, 2008

Months after man was hit with Taser and died, no answers

Please click onto the COMMENTS for the story.


Blogger Bob said...

State troopers say the Fridley man who crashed into a median on 694 was uncooperative. An ongoing investigation is waiting on autopsy results.

By JIM ADAMS, Star Tribune

Last update: March 14, 2008 - 9:33 AM

Nearly two months after a Fridley man was shot with a Taser and died that evening, state officials have released little information about why a state trooper shot him or what caused his death.

Troopers responded on Jan. 15 after Mark Backlund, 29, crashed into a central median barrier on Interstate 694 during evening rush hour in New Brighton. He was breathing but unconscious when paramedics arrived, and he died later at a Fridley hospital. The State Patrol has said Backlund was uncooperative to trooper requests.

The case is being investigated by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and the Anoka County medical examiner's office, which is still analyzing autopsy results.

BCA Superintendent Tim O'Malley said Thursday that the Taser was fired after Backlund refused customary, safety-related requests made by a trooper "responding to a single car crash on a very busy interstate highway during rush hour. Those requests related to the well-being and safety of the driver and other people and motorists on the highway."

The BCA has collected physical evidence, interviewed witnesses and watched videotapes taken from a squad car, O'Malley said. But it is waiting for autopsy results before disclosing specific findings, he added. "We would rather err on the side of accuracy and thoroughness at the expense of time," he said.

Public Safety officials in January declined to release basic incident response data requested by the Star Tribune under the state's open records law. The newspaper's request for the State Patrol's Use of Force report on the incident was declined Thursday. The paper will file an open records request for that report.

Chief Medical Examiner Janis Amatuzio released a statement Thursday saying some toxicology studies require further tests. She said that should take two or three weeks, "at which time the death certificate will be completed and its content made public."

Once autopsy results are ready, the BCA will forward the case to a Ramsey County prosecutor for review, O'Malley said. The prosecutor has several options: file charges in the Taser shooting, decline charges, return the case for more investigation or ask a grand jury to consider charges, O'Malley said.

The night of the incident, Backlund was going to the airport to pick up his parents after their Florida trip, said his father, Gordon Backlund. He has said his son had no heart conditions.

Backlund said Thursday that he is curious about what happened to his son but doesn't want to rush the autopsy and investigation results.

"I want to know the truth," he said. "I don't want to interfere with the process. I want it to go in its normal sequence. ... Time heals the pain, but it doesn't change the facts. These things need to be done somewhat timely, but they need to be accurate."

The case was the State Patrol's first Taser-related death since troopers started carrying the weapons last August, after a one-year pilot test. During that year, Tasers were used 60 times: Troopers merely displayed them 27 times and fired them 33 times, with no known health-related incidents, said a Public Safety Department release. The patrol has 93 Tasers available for its troopers.

The patrol's four-page policy on Tasers says they can be used to control a person who is, or is reasonably expected to become, violent, physically aggressive or who places the person, a trooper or others in danger of bodily harm if the trooper didn't use the Taser to control the person.

Jim Adams • 612-673-7658

12:14 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

In Saint Paul there is some police officers who feel it is justifiable to arouse an intoxicated man using a taser.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Marty said...

Tazers should be unconstitutional.
Its is a milder form of electrocution used in death penalty

The family should sue the state just to get this issue clarified.

Because Minnesota has no capital punishment, we have no case law
in our booksfrom which to draw from.

Doeas anyone know if the use of tazers have been challanged in the 8th circut courts ?


12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We should taser all the ricomen so the quit bugging St.Paul with these bogus lawsuits that cost us lots of money!

City Employee

7:20 PM  
Anonymous zap me said...

If the city was not spending this money on the Ricomens lawsuits, where the hell do you think they would be spending it ?

How about the city stop corruption all together !!

They use police dogs and now tazers ?

Just another way to protect themselves from lawsuits.

The use of tazers is just another form of brutality that is condoned nationwide and has not been ruled
unconstitutional as of yet as cruel and unusual ).

Cops and local government like it because their cops dont have to beat you to a pulp any more.

( Less chance that officers will engage in a Rodney King Type beating ). LAWSUITS !!!!

Another form of police entertainment !!! Watch you squirm around drunk and then they make you walk a straight line to prove you were drunk even if you didn't have anything to drink .

Tazer videos are fun to watch !!!

I would like to tazer Mayor Kelly
for the fun of it.( Just kidding ).

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...




1:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just got to work this morning and heard that the plaintiffs tasered the city.I guess summary judgement has been postponed for a santion hearing.Does anyone know more.Chuck,Ricomen?

Saint Paulite

8:05 AM  
Anonymous captaincab said...

If you would all take a deep breath and look at all the stats regarding Taser related deaths, you would see there is always an over-riding factor going on.

Usually the person who died is on drugs, meth, crack, name your poison. That's always the case that I've found.

Jumping on the police like this is just insane.

And Bob, can you give me a case where the SPPD actually woke up a drunk person using the taser? That would be most interesting to read. A date and location would be helpful. Or even a case number so that I may go up to the pd and read the report myself.

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't ya just love em? There always seems to be an excuse for the status quo regardless of how wrong it is! He's a slumlord and doesn't fix his house, he's on drugs or something else, he doesn't sign his real name.....the list goes on and on to justifiy why some people think it's OK to violate everyone elses rights but theirs.

2:29 AM  

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