BRADENTON — A local chapter of a civil rights group is calling for stricter guidelines on police using Tasers and an investigation independent of the Bradenton Police Department that would examine the events that led up to a 38-year-old man getting stunned.
An hour after the Derrick Humbert was Tasered on Sept. 28, he was pronounced dead at Manatee Memorial Hospital.
The medical examiner’s office said it is waiting on a toxicology report from University of Florida in Gainesville before determining a cause of death. Results some times can take up to 12 weeks, according to the medical examiner’s office.
In the meantime, the Sarasota and Manatee chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference is planning a press conference this month to call for state and nationwide guidelines on when Tasers can be fired by police and to call for an independent investigation of Officer Del Shiflett’s actions. A date has not been set.
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The SCLC also plans to contact the governor’s office to ask for its involvement in the case.
Shiflett fired a stun gun, striking Humbert in the back after he fled from a traffic stop for not having a light on his bicycle, according to a police report.
“If this was a felony issue that took place with this gentleman being shot with a stun gun and the officer feared for his life, you most likely would not be hearing from us,” Smith said.
According to the Bradenton Police Department’s policy on stun guns, if a suspect is actively resisting arrest, police can fire a stun gun in order to take him or her into custody.
The department’s policy lists other criteria: the severity of the crime, if lesser force is not effective, the person poses a threat to the officer or others, or if the person is physically resisting an officer.
Shiflett remains on patrol as the department conducts a review, according to authorities. The review will not conclude until the toxicology report is completed, said Bradenton Police Deputy Chief William Tokajer.
Smith said he believes Shiflett should not be on the street until a thorough investigation is completed.
“In this case, an individual lost his life and this officer was still allowed to go back on the street the next day. That’s wrong,” he said.
The SCLC recently met with the Pensacola Police Department this month after a 17-year-old boy died after be struck by a police car, according to the SCLC Web site. The teen was being chased by an officer in a patrol car who fired a stun gun at the boy.