LEON ALLIGOOD Staff Writer January 23, 2001, Tuesday STATE EDITION Copyright 2001 The Tennessean The Tennessean January 23, 2001, Tuesday STATE EDITION
(FRANKLIN COUNTY, Tenn.) -- A beanbag bullet, 40 grams of buckshot gathered into a socklike pouch and fired from a 12-gauge shotgun, is meant to immobilize, not kill.
On Saturday night, however, such a projectile killed a Franklin County man, prompting a review by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and raising questions about the safety of the beanbag, a popular munitions alternative used by many Tennessee law officers.
'We don't know why it happened. All we can say at this point is that it was a freak accident," said Capt. Tim Fuller of the Franklin County Sheriff's Department.
Michael Bogman, 50, of Gordoneck Road in northern Franklin County, was struck in the chest with one beanbag round after the county's SWAT team could not persuade him to leave his garage, where he stood during a 45-minute standoff with authorities.
Deputies had been called to the home because Bogman had allegedly fired a weapon in the direction of a relative's home. When deputies arrived, he reportedly fired another shot into the air and ran into the garage, according to Capt. Tim Fuller of the Sheriff's Department.
When the SWAT team arrived, an officer was given permission to fire a beanbag and Bogman was struck in the chest. Fuller refused to identify the officer, other than to say he was a veteran lawman and 'is very shook up about the whole thing."
According to Fuller, moments after Bogman was subdued, the man fell unconscious and emergency medical technicians, who were already on the scene, began attempts to resuscitate him. He later died at a local hospital.
'An autopsy was performed by Dr. Charles Harlan and it was discovered that he died from a blunt trauma to the chest; basically, a fractured sternum that caused internal bleeding," Fuller said.
Attempts to reach Bogman's family were unsuccessful.
Saturday's incident was the first time the Super Sock Bean Bag, manufactured by Combined Tactical Systems Inc. of Jamestown, Pa., had caused more than a bruise or welt in use by Franklin County, according to Bruce Bishop, the sheriff's training officer.
'We've never had a problem. The product has worked very well for us," he said.
According to Don Brinton, spokesman for the manufacturer, the death was a 'rare occurrence."
'There are literally hundreds and hundreds of times this product has been used without anything like this happening. We don't know all the details yet, but we are concerned," Brinton said.
Previously two deaths had been reported after the use of beanbag bullets, in Ottawa and New Mexico, said Bishop.
'But those were entry wounds. The product has been redesigned. It's like a sock where some buckshot has been poured, so it's like being hit by a paintball gun and it doesn't enter the body," he said.
Fuller and Brinton said the officer who fired was within the guidelines for using the nonlethal projectile. Fuller said his officer was about 30 feet away. Brinton said that was 'right in the normal range."
Assistant District Attorney Steve Blount said his office was awaiting a report from the TBI before deciding what action, if any, should be taken.
'We've heard some from the internal investigation, but we want the TBI to look at it closer, not to imply that anything inappropriate occurred," he said.