Drugs Killed Suspect, Not TASERs
Timothy Bolander had a variety of drugs in his bloodstream and four ruptured bags of cocaine in his stomach on the December night when two city police officers used stun guns to subdue him, according to a Palm Beach County medical examiner''s report released Tuesday to police.
The 31-year-old man collapsed and stopped breathing as the officers walked him to a patrol car a few minutes after he was jolted four times by two Tasers. He died a short time later.
His cause of death is listed as "accidental cocaine toxicity," according to police who declined to release the report to the media.
"What this tells us is that the Taser didn''t kill this gentleman. What killed this gentleman was his drug use," Delray Beach police spokesman Jeff Messer said.
In addition to cocaine, there were also the painkillers hydrocodone and morphine in Bolander''s body, he said. The tests also showed the presence of nicotine and caffeine.
The amount of cocaine in Bolander''s body far exceeded a lethal level, Messer said.
Officials from medical examiner''s office were unavailable Tuesday night.
Bolander was one of three people in Florida to die in December after being shocked with a Taser, and one of at least 21 people in the state to die following Taser-involved incidents since law enforcement officers across the state began using the weapons in 2001.
Drug use has been listed as the cause of death in the majority of those cases in which autopsies have been completed, and medical examiners have called the deaths accidental. In two of the cases, medical examiners cited the use of the Taser as a contributing cause. In a handful, exertion from struggles with officers and the use of restraints were cited.
In Palm Beach County, law enforcement officers have used Tasers, weapons designed to temporarily incapacitate a person with a 50,000-volt jolt, more than 1,000 times, according to data compiled by The Palm Beach Post.
Bolander, the owner of A Man''s Best Friend dog grooming in Boca Raton, was the first in the county to die after being shocked by the weapon.
His estranged wife called police at 3:37 a.m. Dec. 23 to report that he was outside her Sabal Lakes home banging his head against a fence post.
Police were aware of his history of drug abuse and mental problems. When officers Frank Casarez and Steve Hynes arrived, Bolander did a cartwheel over the hood of their patrol car, Messer said.
The officers described him in their report as "agitated and combative." He ran across the street and back into his wife''s yard and then struggled with officers. Both officers used their Tasers on his upper chest and back, and stunned him four times.
City fire-rescue workers, who had been waiting down the street, treated Bolander within a few minutes. He was pronounced dead at 5:01 a.m. at Delray Medical Center.
"Our department stands by the use of Tasers and our policy on Tasers," Messer said Tuesday.