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August 26, 2005
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Autopsy reveals man TASERed by police suffocated

By Jo Moreland, North County Times Newspaper

ESCONDIDO, FL -- A man with a mental disorder who died after fighting with Escondido police couldn't breathe at some point and suffered irreversible brain damage, according to autopsy results released Thursday.

Relatives of Nazario J. Solorio, 38, and police said that Solorio lapsed into a coma after a May 28 altercation in which an officer used a Taser gun on Solorio at his mother's home while police were trying to get him to a hospital.

Solorio was hospitalized at Palomar Medical Center, where he died a week later.

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Jessica Boyer, an investigator with the San Diego County medical examiner's office, said Thursday that several things happened during the May encounter that resulted in irreversible brain damage, caused by prolonged loss of oxygen. He said Solorio's air supply was cut off at some time by the position of his body.

The autopsy also lists methamphetamine use and schizophrenia as contributing factors in the death.

"It was the way the body was positioned and the physiological changes going on," Boyer said. "The Taser really had nothing to do with his death."

She said Solorio was under the influence of drugs, under stress and in a "hyperexcited state."

"I believe the diaphragm and other muscles of respiration just couldn't function anymore," Boyer said.

Lt. David Mankin, spokesman for the Escondido Police Department, said it will take four to six weeks to complete the customary department review of any officer-involved death, as well as the standard internal review to be sure procedures and policies were followed.

"If we think there is anything to be modified, we will modify it," Mankin said.

Police have not released the results of their investigation so far, including details of how Solorio fought with an officer.

As usual, the San Diego County district attorney's office will determine whether there was any criminal liability. In the meantime, Mankin said, the department will continue to use Tasers.

Solorio's mother, Aurora Carranza, said that she had received a copy of the autopsy report.

"I don't have any comment today," she said Thursday.

Family members said Solorio, an unemployed cook and father of five, wasn't taking his medication before he became disruptive while staying at his mother's home. She called police to get him to a hospital so that he could be helped, relatives said.

Police were told Solorio was acting in a "bizarre and threatening manner," and that he had psychiatric problems, Mankin said.

"We know now that in a previous situation, he had fought with us," the lieutenant said, adding that he didn't know whether the officers who responded May 28 knew that.

Mankin said that during the encounter at the mother's home, Solorio wouldn't stop fighting with an officer, so officers used the Taser. Officers monitoring him later realized he had stopped breathing, Mankin said.

Escondido officers use an M-26 Advanced Air Taser that fires 50,000 volts of electricity as an option to chemical spray, a baton or pistol to stop someone from hurting himself or others, police said.

The department hasn't had any officer-involved deaths since 2000, and there has never been one linked to Escondido police using a Taser, Mankin said.



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