N.C. officers TASER man at dad's funeral
WILMINGTON, N.C. — A North Carolina sheriff's official has apologized for plunging a funeral into chaos when undercover agents tried to arrest the dead man's son -- and used a Taser on him in the process.
It happened as the coffin was being loaded into a hearse. The officers planned to quietly arrest pallbearer Gladwyn Taft Russ III, The Star-News of Wilmington reported Wednesday.
Relatives said two deputies dressed in coats and ties grabbed Russ and kneed him in his back before Tasering him. One deputy's gun fell out of its holster.
Russ' sister, Taffy Gause, said when she got out of the car a deputy "was waving a gun at me and my mom and yelling to get back or he was going to shoot." She said some mourners went home instead of going to the cemetery.
Russ, 42, had failed to surrender after being charged with threatening his ex-wife who lives in another state, officials said. Following his father's death Nov. 11, Russ agreed to surrender after the funeral.
When deputies approached Russ during the Saturday funeral, he "went wild" and spat on the officers, said New Hanover County sheriff's chief deputy Ed McMahon.
McMahon said the officers should have waited until after the cemetery service.
"It was never my intention to create any more problems for the family, and I am truly sorry and apologize for that," he said.
McMahon said the officers pointed Tasers at people because the crowd was moving toward them.
Russ was charged with assault on a government official, resisting an officer, disorderly conduct and felony malicious conduct by a prisoner.
"Everybody was so scared. We thought it was a drug deal gone bad," said Ronnie Simmons, a pallbearer and Russ' brother-in-law. "We almost dropped the casket."
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