A 32-year-old man who allegedly went on a rampage on Monday inside gym in Colonie, N.Y., died after he was tased by police. It is the second recent police-related death to occur in the town, which has twice been voted the "safest town in America."
The man, Chad Brothers, a resident of Troy, was pronounced dead at Albany Medical Center Hospital. A cause of death was not known on Wednesday, and an autopsy has yet to be conducted, Colonie Police Chief Steven Heider told The Huffington Post.
"It is a tragedy for everyone involved," Heider said. "Needless to say, I'm sure Mr. Brothers did not leave his house that morning thinking that would happen, and I'm sure my officers had no intention of that happening."
Before the fracas, Colonie officers responded to a 6:20 a.m. 911 call Monday at Gold's Gym in Latham. Witnesses told police that Brothers, whom they described as highly charged and physically aggressive, fell off an elliptical machine and went into a rage.
"He raised the speed on a treadmill another guy was on and then punched him in the face," Heider said. "He then knocked over a series of 700 pound weight machines and totally destroyed an office area."
When a female police officer arrived on the scene, she ordered Brothers, who Heider described as a 6 foot, 230-pound bodybuilder, to stand down. Brothers allegedly refused to comply and began throwing items at the officer, at which time she tased him.
Brothers collapsed to the ground and the officer was in the process of putting cuffs on him when he allegedly began resisting again and grabbed the electroshock gun from the officer. During the continuing tussle, two other officers arrived on the scene and both used their Tasers on Brothers.
"It was a very violent fight-to-the-death type of fight," Heider said. "When they finally did get him cuffed, after about six other people helped, they noticed he had stopped breathing."
Authorities performed CPR on Brothers and he appeared to start breathing again, but was dead when he arrived at the hospital at 7:14 a.m. police said.
The electroshock gun, commonly called a Taser, is a tool used by thousands of law enforcement agencies because it causes temporary loss of muscle control in its target by deploying electricity throughout the body. Supporters of the device say it allows officers to avoid potential physical confrontations; critics counter that it can cause unnecessary pain -- and possibly death.
"We've used the Taser for almost eight years," Heider said in defense of his department. "We have probably arrested 21,000 people in those eight years and used the taser 140 times, and [a death] has never happened before."
Heider added, "Without the Taser, we would be resorting to clubs, and if that would not work, we would have had to shoot him."
New York State Police and the Albany County district attorney's office are conducting an investigation of the incident. The names of the two officers involved in the scuffle were not released.
"We will look into this, as far as making sure [protocols] were followed, but I believe they were," the police chief said.
A cause of death for Brothers is also pending.
"The pathologist has been asked to perform specific tests looking for the presence of steroids and other types of drugs or alcohol," Heider said. "It could take months before we get toxicology results back, and the pathologist won't give a cause of death until they have all that."
According to the Times Union, the incident is the second police-related death in to occur in Colonie in recent months. In July, 21-year-old Agostino Jubrey was shot and killed by police after he shot at them in the driveway of his Leach Avenue home, the newspaper reported.
In 2009 and 2010, Colonie was voted the safest town in America by CQ Press.
"Colonie, New York tops the list for ... the lowest city crime rate ranking in the United States," CQ Press said in a press release. They added, "Colonie earned the lowest city crime rate ranking with only 61 incidences of violent crime in 2009, the second lowest number of all 400 cities included in the rankings."
No word yet on how the latest incidents might affect the town's future ranking.
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