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Coroner: Man hit with Taser died from heart disease, cocaine

BRADENTON — A Bradenton man who died Sept. 28 after being hit by a Taser fired by a Bradenton Police Department officer, died from cocaine toxicity and heart disease, according to the medical examiner’s office.

“His heart was enlarged. He had at least one large blockage,” Dr. Russell Vega said in an interview Tuesday. “We see that as a cause of death by itself.”

Derrick Humbert, 38, of Bradenton, was Tasered by a Bradenton Police officer after he fled from a traffic stop in the 700 block of 27th Street East. He was stopped for not having a light affixed to the front of his bicycle.

Humbert bolted with two officers chasing him and was Tasered in someone’s yard. According to reports, he was conscious and breathing immediately after the 5-second stun.

He died about an hour later at Manatee Memorial Hospital. Police later discovered he had a warrant for his arrest for marijuana possession.

Vega said it appears the Taser did not cause Humbert’s death.

“If it did, it appears to be have been a minor role or none. There’s no way to confirm that,” Vega said. “We simply couldn’t find any evidence the Taser played a role.”

Because Humbert had a blockage, when he ran, it complicated the blood flow to his heart, Vega said.

Coupled with a significant amount of cocaine in his system, “all of that makes for a potentially lethal mixture,” he said.

The medical examiner’s office has ruled Humbert’s death as accidental, he said.

Marilyn Humbert, Humbert’s sister, said she was in disbelief about the findings. She said her brother was never diagnosed with heart disease and did not use cocaine.

“My brother was fine until they Tasered him. He was healthy and he was fine,” she said.

The family has been told by witnesses Humbert never got off the ground to walk to a patrol car, she said.

“They need to get rid of (Tasers),” she said. “It’s killing people. Derrick’s not the first one.”

Members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a civil rights group, are scheduled to meet with officials at Bradenton Police Department about the incident and officers stopping pedestrians in low-income areas. Art Rocker, chairman of the Florida Southern Christian Leadership Conference State Unit, said regardless of Humbert’s official cause of death, the group plans a march 11 a.m. Saturday starting at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W, and ending at the police department, 100 10th St. W.

“That’s their privilege to say that. ... My point is it doesn’t matter. We are coming to highlight the issue that occurred there with law enforcement and we think they are a little too aggressive,” Rocker said.

The death investigation is expected to be finalized this week. A Bradenton Police Department’s internal review of the incident should wrap up next week, said Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski.

Officer Del Shiflett, who deployed the Taser, acted properly in terms of using the weapon on Humbert, Radzilowski said. The department is examining whether all procedures were followed during the stop, he said.

Bradenton Police Department’s Taser policy prohibits officers from deploying the Taser if the person has a known health condition such as a heart condition or pregnancy.

“It’s terribly unfortunate and we don’t want anybody to die, but in this case this use of non lethal force did not kill Mr. Humbert,” Radzilowski said.

There has never been a Taser related death in Manatee County, Vega said.

“We’ve actually had very few deaths after Taser deployment and haven’t had one directly attributed as a cause of death,” he said.

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