Police in Moberly, Mo., on Thursday defended the use of a Taser on a suspected drunken driver after the man later died at local hospital.
Stanley Harlan, 23, of Moberly, was pulled over in a residential neighborhood at 12:30 a.m. Thursday for driving erratically, according to police. Moberly is about 35 miles north of Columbia.
Officers attempted to handcuff Harlan after he resisted arrest on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, police commander Kevin Palmatory said. Police then twice used the Taser in an effort to subdue him.
"He had one arm free, swinging his arm with the handcuff," Palmatory said. "He had not been searched. Officers didn't know if he had a weapon."
The first Taser shock lasted five seconds and the subsequent shock was only one second, Palmatory said. Harlan became unresponsive soon thereafter. Officers started CPR until an ambulance arrived.
Harlan was pronounced dead at 2:10 a.m. at Moberly Regional Medical Center. An autopsy was scheduled for Thursday afternoon in Columbia.
Palmatory said the Taser use followed the Moberly Police Department's guidelines for use of force. The officer involved was placed on administrative leave with pay pending an internal inquiry along with an investigation of Harlan's death by the Missouri Highway Patrol's Division of Drug and Crime Control in Macon.
"It is an extremely valuable tool that is available to law enforcement," Palmatory said of the Taser.
In Columbia, some community activists have been protesting a city plan to expand the number of Tasers provided to police. In July, a man who threatened suicide fell from a pedestrian bridge over Interstate 70 and suffered multiple injuries after police used two Tasers on him.
"Every time it's used, you're taking a chance that this will seriously injure someone, or cause death," said Columbia activist Mary Hussman.