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News (Media Awareness Project) - US CO: Jefferson County Deputies Cleared In Drug User's Death
Title:US CO: Jefferson County Deputies Cleared In Drug User's Death
Published On:2011-11-28
Source:Denver Post (CO)
Fetched On:2011-11-29 06:02:49

Russell Arnold Jr.'s eyes were bulging, and he was sweating and
speaking gibberish.

So his girlfriend, Jayme Hammond, called 911 and told a Jefferson
County sheriff's dispatcher she was afraid and also concerned for his safety.

"My boyfriend is high on something," Hammond said. "He is acting crazy."

About 20 minutes after that call for help, Arnold was dead.

Four Jefferson County sheriff's deputies fought with Arnold when they
got to his apartment and used a Taser on him, but an autopsy
determined Arnold, 34, didn't die from the struggle. He died from
complications of methamphetamine toxicity.

But Arnold's mother, Kathleen, said she thinks excessive force was
used in the June incident. She hasn't decided whether to sue the
Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

"The 911 call indicates he needs medical help. At what point did they
decide he did not need medical help?" she said. "Why do you
electrocute someone who is in that kind of a mental state?"

Jefferson County sheriff's spokesman Mark Techmeyer said the case is
tragic but deputies didn't do anything wrong.

"When we go on a domestic-violence call, the last thing we think in
our mind is that someone is going to die," he said. "It is not the
ending we hoped for when we went out there."

Documents about the circumstances regarding Arnold's death, including
interviews with Hammond, deputies and paramedics at the scene, were
recently released to The Denver Post by the Jefferson County
Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff's Office asked Lakewood police
detectives to independently investigate Arnold's death.

Last week, District Attorney Scott Storey officially cleared the
deputies of wrongdoing.

"Based on all the relevant factors, it is my conclusion that . . .
deputies used reasonable and appropriate force in attempts to subdue
a combative Mr. Arnold," Storey wrote. "The death of Mr. Arnold is
tragic, but it is not the result of the actions of members of the
Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. It is my conclusion the . . .
deputies did not violate any provisions of Colorado's Criminal Code."

The incident began about 4 a.m. June 7, when Arnold wouldn't let Hammond sleep.

He kept picking her up like a baby, and she realized his behavior
meant he had relapsed on methamphetamine after two years of sobriety,
records show.

When deputies arrived, they encountered an out-of-control Arnold who
didn't want to comply with their commands, records of interviews with
the deputies say.

Sgt. Charlie Simmons attempted to subdue Arnold with a Taser using a
"drive stun" method into his thigh. When Arnold didn't react to the
device, Simmons began punching him in the face.

Finally, deputies managed to handcuff Arnold and attach a hobble
device to his legs. They called an ambulance to treat his injuries
from the fight.

Paramedics told investigators that Arnold continued to resist in the
ambulance. They gave him two shots of Versed, a sedative, to calm him
down. Arnold went limp in the ambulance and stopped breathing. The
paramedics tried to revive him to no avail.
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