BRADENTON — A preliminary investigation into the death of a man who had been shot with a police Taser showed the officer who fired the weapon acted within department policy, Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski said today.
The 12th District Medical Examiner Office is still investigating what killed 38-year-old Derrick Humbert early Monday morning after police say an officer shot him in the back with a Taser after he ran from an attempted traffic stop in the 2700 block of Eighth Avenue East.
Manatee County Public Safety Capt. Larry Leinhauser said Humbert at first appeared fine when EMS arrived after police requested he be medically cleared. But during transport to Manatee Memorial Hospital, Humbert went into respiratory arrest and his health drastically deteriorated.
The Taser shooting occurred at 12:19 a.m., EMS took Humbert, who suffers from epilepsy, to the hospital at 12:45 a.m., and transferred custody to the hospital at 12:50 a.m. Police said Humbert was pronounced dead at 1:10 a.m., according to a timeline of events released by the department.
Radzilowski said the officer who shot Humbert, Del Shiflett, appears to have acted within department policy, which allows officers to fire a Taser on a suspect should they try to avoid arrest by fleeing. Shiflett is still on active duty while an internal investigation is conducted, the chief said.
Medical Examiner Russell Vega, who is performing the autopsy on Humbert, said he has so far determined Humbert had no significant injuries that could have caused his death. It will be weeks before the full cause of death is determined as Vega awaits toxicology tests. His heart and brain will also be examined, Vega said.
It cannot yet be determined if the Taser shooting contributed to his death, he said.
Vega also said Humbert’s epilepsy is not high on the list as a potential cause of death in the case. He said the toxicology tests will most likely provide more information on how he died.
“We aren’t considering epilepsy as our No. 1 focus,” said Vega. “The number of unexpected deaths we see in this office due to prescription drugs and illegal drugs, as well as information we are receiving from personnel that responded to this incident are pointing us to the toxicology tests.”