Deputies Matthew Sanderson, Prizette Presberry and Chadrick Scott will be on leave while the Georgia Bureau of Investigation looks into the death Friday of George Kent Harvey. The deputies were hired at the sheriff’s office between October 2008 and March 2009.
Police said the officers were trying to apprehend Harvey, 39, at the Chevron Food Mart, 1501 Gordon Highway, when they used the newly issued weapon.
Deputy Coroner Kenneth Boose said Harvey went into cardiac arrest after an officer tried to subdue him. He died at 10:47 p.m. at Georgia Regents Medical Center.
Deputies were issued the alternative weapon for the first time in March after a month of training. “Use of Force” reports indicated deputies have used the Tasers 60 times through June.
According to a 2010 research report funded by the National Institute of Justice, death by conducted energy devices, or stun guns, is relatively rare.
The researchers discovered an earlier study analyzing 37 such deaths. Autopsy results showed that 54 percent of the victims had cardiovascular disease, 78 percent were under the influence of drugs and 75 percent were diagnosed with excited delirium.
Excited delirium is defined as a syndrome characterized by psychosis and agitation. It is associated with combativeness and elevated body temperature. The unstable condition carries a high mortality risk even in the absence of being subdued.
The devices were ruled as a possible cause of death in six cases and a contributing factor in four.
Injuries from the devices in general are uncommon. In a study of about 960 suspects, 99.7 percent were uninjured or mildly injured and 0.3 percent were moderately or severely injured.
Coroner Grover Tuten said an autopsy on Harvey was performed Monday but results are not available.
The GBI Crime Lab in Atlanta has requested Harvey’s medical records as its part of the investigation continues.
Harvey had a history of arrests related to cocaine, marijuana and controlled substances; and an open container and driving under the influence arrest in December. The coroner has not indicated whether drug use could have been a contributing factor in the death.
Toxicology and histology results are also pending. Results could take up to 12 weeks.