11/17/2004

Fla. Panhandle Deputies Cleared in Death After TASER Used

Northwest Florida Daily News, AP

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. - Prosecutors have cleared Okaloosa County sheriff''s deputies in the death of a man they subdued with a Taser stun gun, citing an autopsy report that blamed "cocaine-associated excited delirium."

Assistant State Attorney Stephen Pitre wrote in a letter to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent Tuesday that evidence did not warrant a coroner''s inquest into the death of Demetrius Tillman Nelson, 44, of Pensacola.

Nelson died July 3 after a struggle with deputies in Destin.

A coroner''s inquest is designed only to investigate possible criminal negligence or other foul play associated with a death, Pitre stated in the letter.

"Under these circumstances, the use of force by law enforcement whether justified or not has been ruled out as the cause or even a contributing cause in Mr. Nelson''s death," he wrote.

Nelson was traveling with his girlfriend and her three children late at night July 2 when they had car trouble and pulled into the parking lot of a shopping mall.

Deputies said they tried to restrain him when he became incoherent and grabbed one of the children. Nelson died the next day at a hospital.

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