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Guy Guthrie, suicidal man with BB gun, dies after being Tased

Update: This weekend, members of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office deployed a Taser against a suicidal man now identified as Guy Guthrie, 55. He was armed, but only with a BB gun -- and died about an hour later. A JCSO spokesman defends the safety of Tasers even as he acknowledges that the outcome was tragic. But while there's no evidence yet that the device contributed to the Guthrie's death, the incident is still likely to fuel criticism from those who believe Tasers are a lot more dangerous than advertised.

The best-known recent incident in which a man died after being Tased involved Alonzo Ashley -- and the accounts of the July 2011 incident at the Denver Zoo from his girlfriend and the Denver Police Department could hardly be more different.

As we've reported, the girlfriend said Ashley (nicknamed Tiger) got so overheated while visiting the zoo that he vomited. She added that he was trying to cool down by splashing water on his head from a fountain near the elephant enclosure when a zoo staffer asked if he needed help. He allegedly responded by saying he wanted to be left alone, prompting calls to zoo security and Denver Police. She insisted that no "domestic disturbance" of the sort cited by the DPD took place, and maintained that he didn't fight back against officers.

In contrast, police said Ashley attacked a zoo employee alerted by an argument with his girlfriend, and subsequently bit two people trying to subdue him, in addition to inflicting a head injury. Moreover, they described him as so wild that contact-Tasing -- pressing the device directly against him, as opposed to shooting him with Taser barbs, which would have immobilized him entirely -- did nothing to slow him down. Only after he was belatedly brought under control did he begin convulsing, then stopped breathing. He died at a nearby hospital.

Ashley's death was controversial, but in January 2012, the Manager of Safety's Office determined that no charges should be filed against the eight officers involved in the matter. This determination didn't satisfy Ashley's friends, family and loved ones: Last July, they sued the zoo and the police department. The lawsuit has not been resolved at this writing.

This weekend's situation happened at a far less public place -- a home at 30438 Sunset Trail in Conifer so far off the radar that Google Maps has yet to capture its image. At 6:49 a.m., according to a JCSO press release, deputies and medical personnel arrived at the address after receiving a report about a 55-year-old man -- Guthrie, a resident of the Pine area -- who'd been making suicidal statements.

JCSO public-information officer Mark Techmeyer adds that the man's brother, who phoned authorities, believed he was under the influence of drugs at the time. Techmeyer says he didn't specify which drugs, though, and a coroner's report has yet to be finalized.

Guthrie was carrying a BB gun, and when he refused to drop it, deputies deployed a Taser, after which he's said to have been placed into custody without further incident.

That's not the end of the story, however.

Continue for more about Tasers and the weekend death of a Conifer man.

 

As Guthrie was being transported to a patrol car, he started having trouble breathing. Emergency crews immediately began working on him, but to no avail. He was pronounced dead while still on the scene at 7:57 a.m., a little over an hour after deputies arrived.

Could the drugs potentially in the man's system have interacted with a shock from the Taser in a fatal manner? Techmeyer doubts it.

"They should have no effect," he says. "You can Tase someone with a pacemaker and when they're on medication. You can even Tase them when they're in the water. It should have no effect whatsoever."

Techmeyer emphasizes that "the force we used is yet to be determined as having any part in his dying or not." But at first glance, he sees nothing inappropriate about the Taser deployment, even though the weapon in his possession is generally thought to inflict only minor damage.

"The bottom line is, it wouldn't matter if he was holding a BB gun, a rock or a hammer or anything else that had the ability to cause harm to himself or the deputies. We're going to try to get him to cooperate force -- and when he would not, we used the safest measures for everyone involved."

This view is disputed by the folks at the Electronic Village blogspot, which seeks to document Taser-related deaths. The post cites Amnesty International figures showing that 351 people in the United States died between 2001 and 2008 after being shocked by police Tasers. Since then, the blog has collated another 187 from January 2009 to April 2013, for a total of 538.

This weekend's incident may well wind up on this sad roster -- but Techmeyer cautions against jumping to conclusions about the cause of death. "We have to wait for the coroner to find out what happened to this gentleman," he says.

Whatever the case, he clearly wishes things had turned out differently. In his words, "when deputies go on a call, the last thing you expect is for that call to end with a fatality. It's tough."

Look below to see the Electronic Village 2009-2013 list. Note that Alonzo Ashley is number 139, while another Denverite -- Marvin Booker, who died in police custody in July 2010, is number 89.

1. Jan 9, 2009: Derrick Jones, 17, Black, Martinsville, Virginia 2. Jan 11, 2009: Rodolfo Lepe, 31, Hispanic, Bakersfield, California 3. Jan 22, 2009: Roger Redden, 52, Caucasian, Soddy Daisy, Tennessee- 4. Feb 2, 2009: Garrett Jones, 45, Caucasian, Stockton, California 5. Feb 11, 2009: Richard Lua, 28, Hispanic, San Jose, California 6. Feb 13, 2009: Rudolph Byrd, 37, Black, Thomasville, Georgia 7. Feb 13, 2009: Michael Jones, 43, Black, Iberia, Louisiana 8. Feb 14, 2009: Chenard Kierre Winfield, 32, Black, Los Angeles, California 9. Feb 28, 2009: Robert Lee Welch, 40, Caucasian, Conroe, Texas 10. Mar 22, 2009: Brett Elder, 15, Caucasian, Bay City, Michigan 11. Mar 26, 2009: Marcus D. Moore, 40, Black, Freeport, Illinois 12. Apr 1, 2009: John J. Meier Jr., 48, Caucasian, Tamarac, Florida 13. Apr 6, 2009: Ricardo Varela, 41, Hispanic, Fresno, California 14. Apr 10, 2009: Robert Mitchell, 16, Black, Detroit, Michigan 15. Apr 13, 2009: Craig Prescott, 38, Black, Modesto, California 16. Apr 16, 2009: Gary A. Decker, 50, Black, Tuscon, Arizona 17. Apr 18, 2009: Michael Jacobs Jr., 24, Black, Fort Worth, Texas 18. Apr 30, 2009: Kevin LaDay, 35, Black, Lumberton, Texas 19. May 4, 2009: Gilbert Tafoya, 53, Caucasian, Holbrook, Arizona 20. May 17, 2009: Jamaal Valentine, 27, Black, La Marque, Texas 21. May 23, 2009: Gregory Rold, 37, Black, Salem, Oregon 22. Jun 9, 2009: Brian Cardall, 32, Caucasian, Hurricane, Utah 23. Jun 13, 2009: Dwight Madison, 48, Black, Bel Air, Maryland 24. Jun 20, 2009 Derrek Kairney, 36, Race: Unknown, South Windsor, Connecticut 25. Jun 30, 2009, Shawn Iinuma, 37, Asian, Fontana, California 26. Jul 2, 2009, Rory McKenzie, 25, Black, Bakersfield, California 27. Jul 20, 2009, Charles Anthony Torrence, 35, Caucasian, Simi Valley, California 28. Jul 30, 2009, Johnathan Michael Nelson, 27, Caucasian, Riverside County, California 29. Aug 9, 2009, Terrace Clifton Smith, 52, Black, Moreno Valley, California 30. Aug 12, 2009, Ernest Ridlehuber, 53, Race: Unknown, Greenville, South Carolina 31. Aug 14, 2009, Hakim Jackson, 31, Black, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 32. Aug 18, 2009, Ronald Eugene Cobbs, 38, Black, Greensboro, North Carolina 33. Aug 20, 2009, Francisco Sesate, 36, Hispanic, Mesa, Arizona 34. Aug 22, 2009, T.J. Nance, 37, Race: Unknown, Arizona City, Arizona 35. Aug 26, 2009, Miguel Molina, 27, Hispanic, Los Angeles, California 36. Aug 27, 2009, Manuel Dante Dent, 27, Hispanic, Modesto, California 37. Sep 3, 2009, Shane Ledbetter, 38, Caucasian, Aurora, Colorado 38. Sep 16, 2009, Alton Warren Ham, 45, Caucasian, Modesto, California 39. Sep 19, 2009, Yuceff W. Young II, 21, Black, Brooklyn, Ohio 40. Sep 21, 2009, Richard Battistata, 44, Hispanic, Laredo, Texas 41. Sep 28, 2009, Derrick Humbert, 38, Black, Bradenton, Florida 42. Oct 2, 2009, Rickey Massey, 38, Black, Panama City, Florida 43. Oct 12, 2009, Christopher John Belknap, 36, Race: Unknown, Ukiah, California 44. Oct 16, 2009, Frank Cleo Sutphin, 19, Caucasian, San Bernadino, California 45. Oct 27, 2009, Jeffrey Woodward, 33, Caucasian, Gallatin, Tennessee 46. Nov 13, 2009, Herman George Knabe, 58, Caucasian, Corpus Christi, Texas 47. Nov 14, 2009, Darryl Bain, 43, Black, Coram, New York 48. Nov 16, 2009, Matthew Bolick, 30, Caucasian, East Grand Rapids, Michigan 49. Nov 19, 2009, Jesus Gillard, 61, Black, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 50. Nov 21, 2009, Ronald Petruney, 49, Race: Unknown, Washington, Pennsylvania 51. Nov 27, 2009, Eddie Buckner, 53, Caucasian, Chattanooga, Tennessee 52. Dec 11, 2009, Andrew Grande, 33, Caucasian, Oak County, Florida 53. Dec 11, 2009, Hatchel Pate Adams III, 36, Black, Hampton, Virginia 54. Dec 11, 2009, Paul Martin Martinez, 36, Hispanic, Roseville, California 55. Dec 13, 2009, Douglas Boucher, 39, Caucasian, Mason, Ohio 56. Dec 14, 2009, Linda Hicks, 62, Black, Toledo, Ohio 57. Dec 19, 2009, Preston Bussey III, 41, Black, Rockledge, Florida 58. Dec 20, 2009, Michael Hawkins, 39, Caucasian, Springfield, Missouri 59. Dec 30, 2009, Stephen Palmer, 47, Race: Unknown, Stamford, Connecticut 60. Jan 6, 2010, Delano Smith, 21, Black, Elkhart, Indiana 61. Jan 17, 2010, William Bumbrey III, 36, Black, Arlington, Virginia 62. Jan 20, 2010, Kelly Brinson, 45, Race: Unknown, Cincinnati, Ohio 63. Jan 27, 2010, Joe Spruill, Jr., Black, Goldsboro, North Carolina 64. Jan 28, 2010, Patrick Burns, 50, Caucasian, Sangamon County, Illinois 65. Jan 28, 2010, Daniel Mingo, 25, Black, Mobile, Alabama 66. Feb 4, 2010, Mark Morse, 36, Caucasian, Phoenix, Arizona 67. Mar 4, 2010, Roberto Olivo, 33, Hispanic, Tulare, California 68. Mar 5, 2010, Christopher Wright, 48, Race: Unknown, Seattle, Washington 69. Mar 10, 2010, Jaesun Ingles, 31, Black, Midlothian, Illinois 70. Mar 10, 2010, James Healy Jr., 44, Race: Unknown, Rhinebeck, New York 71. Mar 20, 2010, Albert Valencia, 31, Hispanic, Downey, California 72. Apr 10, 2010, Daniel Joseph Barga, 24, Caucasian, Cornelius, Oregon 73. Apr 30, 2010, Adil Jouamai, 32, Moroccan, Arlington, Virginia 74. May 9, 2010, Audreacus Davis, 29, Black, Atlanta, Georgia 75. May 14, 2010, Sukeba Olawunmi, 39, Race: Unknown, Atlanta, Georgia 76. May 24, 2010, Efrain Carrion, 35, Hispanic, Middletown, Connecticut 77. May 27, 2010, Carl Johnson, 48, Caucasian, Baltimore, Maryland 78. May 29, 2010, Jose Martinez, 53, Hispanic, Waukegan, Illinois 79. May 31, 2010, Anastasio Hernández Rojas, 42, Hispanic, San Ysidro, California 80. Jun 8, 2010, Terrelle Houston, 22, Black, Hempstead, Texas 81. Jun 12, 2010, Curtis Robinson, 34, Black, Albuquerque, New Mexico 82. Jun 13, 2010, William Owens, 17, Race: Unknown, Homewood, Alabama 83. Jun 14, 2010, Jose Alfredo Jimenez, 42, Hispanic, Harris County, Texas 84. Jun 15, 2010, Michael White, 47, Black, Vallejo, California 85. Jun 22, 2010, Daniel Sylvester, 35, Caucasian, Crescent City, California 86. July 5, 2010, Damon Falls, 31, Black, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 87. July 5, 2010, Edmund Gutierrez, 22, Hispanic, Imperial, California 88. July 8, 2010, Phyllis Owens, 87, Race: Unknown, Clackamas County, Oregon 89. July 9, 2010, Marvin Booker, 56, Race: Black, Denver, Colorado 90. July 12, 2010, Anibal Rosario-Rodriguez, 61, Hispanic, New Britain, Connecticut 91. July 15, 2010, Jerome Gill, Race: Unknown, Chicago, Illinois 92. July 18, 2010, Edward Stephenson, 46, Race: Unknown, Leavenworth, Kansas 93. July 23, 2010, Jermaine Williams, 30, Black, Cleveland, Mississippi 94. Aug 1, 2010, Dennis Sandras, 49, Race: Unknown, Houma, Louisiana 95. Aug 9, 2010, Andrew Torres, 39, Hispanic, Greenville, South Carolina 96. Aug 18, 2010, Martin Harrison, 50, Caucasian, Dublin, California 97. Aug 19, 2010, Adam Disalvo, 30, Caucasian, Daytona Beach, Florida 98. Aug 20, 2010, Stanley Jackson, 31, Black, Washtenaw County, Michigan 99. Aug 24, 2010, Michael Ford, 50, Black, Livonia, Michigan 100. Aug 25, 2010, Eduardo Hernandez-Lopez, 21, Hispanic, Las Vegas, Nevada 101. Aug 31, 2010, King Hoover, 27, Black, Spanaway, Washington 102. Sep 4, 2010, Adam Colliers, 25, Caucasian, Gold Bar, Washington 103. Sep 10, 2010, Larry Rubio, 20, Race: Unknown, Leemore, California 104. Sep 12, 2010, Freddie Lockett, 30, Black, Dallas, Texas 105. Sep 16, 2010, Gary L. Grossenbacher, 48, Race: Unknown, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 106. Sep 18, 2010, David Cornelius Smith, 28, Black, Minneapolis, Minnesota 107. Sep 18, 2010, Joseph Frank Kennedy, 48, Caucasian, La Mirada, California 108. Oct 4, 2010, Javon Rakestrau, 28, Black, Lafayette Parish, Louisiana 109. Oct 7, 2010, Patrick Johnson, 18, Caucasian, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 110. Oct 12, 2010, Ryan Bain, 31, Caucasian, Billings, Montana 111. Oct 14, 2010, Karreem Ali, 65, Black, Silver Spring, Maryland 112. Oct 19, 2010, Troy Hooftallen, 36, Caucasian, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania 113. Nov 4, 2010, Eugene Lamott Allen, 40, Race: Unknown, Wilmington, Delaware 114. Nov 6, 2010, Robert Neill, Jr., 61, Caucasian, Mount Joy, Pennsylvania .115. Nov 7, 2010, Mark Shaver, 32, Caucasian, Brimfield, Ohio 116. Nov 23, 2010, Denevious Thomas, 36, Black, Albany, Georgia 117. Nov 26, 2010, Rodney Green, 36, Black, Waco, Texas 118. Nov 27, 2010, Blaine McElroy, 37, Race: Unknown, Jackson County, Mississippi 119. Dec 2, 2010, Clayton Early James, Age: Unknown, Race: Unknown, Elizabeth City, North Carolina 120. Dec 11, 2010, Anthony Jones, 44, Race: Unknown, Las Vegas, Nevada 121. Dec 12, 2010, Linel Lormeus, 26, Black, Naples, Florida 122. Dec 20, 2010, Christopher Knight, 35, Black, Brunswick, Georgia 123. Dec 31, 2010, Rodney Brown, 40, Black, Cleveland, Ohio 124. Jan 5, 2011, Kelly Sinclair, 41, Race: Unknown, Amarillo, Texas 125. Feb 5, 2011, Robert Ricks, 23, Black, Alexandria, Louisiana 126. March 15, 2011, Brandon Bethea, 24, Black, Harnett County, North Carolina 127. Apr 3, 2011, Jairious McGhee, 23, Black, Tampa, Florida 128. Apr 22, 2011, Adam Spencer Johnson, 33, Caucasian, Orlando, Florida 129. Apr 23, 2011, Ronald Armstrong, 43, Race: Unknown, Pinehurst, North Carolina 130. Apr 25, 2011, Kevin Darius Campbell, 39, Race: Unknown, Tallahassee, Florida 131. May 1, 2011, Marcus Brown, 26, Black, Waterbury, Connecticut 132. May 6, 2011, Matthew Mittelstadt, 56, Caucasian, Boundary County, Idaho 133. May 11, 2011, Allen Kephart, 43, Caucasian, San Bernadino County, California 134. June 13, 2011, Howard Hammon, 41, Caucasian, Middleburg, Ohio 135. June 22, 2011, Otto Kolberg, 55, Caucasian, Waycross, Georgia 136. June 28, 2011, Dalric East, 40, Black, Montgomery County, Maryland 137. July 5, 2011, Kelly Thomas, 37, Caucasian, Fullerton, California 138. July 10, 2011, Joshua Nossoughi, 32, Caucasian, Springfield, Missouri 139. July 19, 2011, Alonzo Ashley, 29, Black, Denver, Colorado 140. July 21, 2011, La'Reko Williams, 21, Black, Charlotte, North Carolina 141. July 30, 2011, Donald Murray, 39, Caucasian, Westland, Michigan 142. August 4, 2011, Pierre Abernathy, 30, Black, San Antonio, Texas 143. August 6, 2011, Everette Howard, 18, Black, Cincinnati, Ohio 144. August 6, 2011, Debro Wilkerson, 29, Black, Prince William County, Maryland 145. August 6, 2011, Gregory Kralovetz, 50, Caucasian, Kaukauna, Wisconsin 146. August 12, 2011, Joseph Lopez, 49, Hispanic, Santa Barbara, California 147. August 17, 2011, Roger Chandler, 41, Caucasian, Helena, Montana 148. August 21, 2011, Montalito McKissick, 37, Black, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 149. August 24, 2011, Michael Evans, 56, Race: Unknown, Fayetteville, North Carolina 150. August 30, 2011, Nicholas Koscielniak, 27, Caucasian, Lancaster, New York 151. September 11, 2011, Tyree Sinclair, 31, Black, Corpus Christi, Texas 152. September 13, 2011, Damon Barnett, 44, Caucasian, Fresno, California 153. September 17, 2011, Richard Kokenos, 27, Caucasian, Warren, Michigan 154. September 24, 2011, Bradford Gibson, 35, Black, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan 155. September 24, 2011, Donacio Rendon, 43, Race: Unknown, Lubbock, Texas 156. September 29, 2011, Howard Cook, 35, Black, York, Pennsylvania 157. October 4, 2011, Glenn Norman, 46, Caucasian, Camden County, Missouri 158. October 9, 2011, Darnell Hutchinson, 32, Black, San Leandro, California 159. October 31, 2011, Chad Brothers, 32, Caucasian, Colonie, New York 160. November 6, 2011, Darrin Hanna, 43, Black, North Chicago, Illinois 161. November 13, 2011, Ronald Cristiano, 51, Caucasian, Bridgeport, Connecticut 162. November 15, 2011, Jonathan White, 29, Black, San Bernardino, California 163. November 22, 2011, Roger Anthony, 61, Black, Scotland Neck, North Carolina 164. December 16, 2011, Marty Atencio, 44, Hispanic, Phoenix, Arizona 165. December 22, 2011, Wayne Williams, 27, Black, Houma, Louisiana 166. January 15, 2012, Daniel Guerra, 24, Hispanic, Ft. Worth, Texas 167. February 29, 2012, Raymond Allen, 34, Black, Galveston, Texas 168. March 5, 2012, Nehemiah Dillard, 29, Black, Gainesville, Florida 169. March 12, 2012, Jersey Green, 37, Black, Aurora, Illinois 170. March 19, 2012, James Barnes, 38, Caucasian, Pinellas County, Florida 171. April 10, 2012, Bobby Merrill, 38, Black, Saginaw, Michigan 172. April 21, 2012, Angel Heraldo, 41, Hispanic, Meriden, Connecticut 173. April 22, 2012, Bruce Chrestensen, 52, Caucasian, Grass Valley, California 174. May 10, 2012, Damon Abraham, 34, Black, Baldwin, Louisiana 175. June 9, 2012, Randolph Bonvillian, 41, Caucasian, Houma, Louisiana 176. June 20, 2012, Macadam Mason, 39, Caucasian, Thetford, Vermont 177. June 30, 2012, Victor Duffy, 25, Black, Tukwila, Washington 178. July 1, 2012, Corey McGinnis, 35, Black, Cincinnati, Ohio 179. July 5, 2012, Sampson Castellane, 29, Native American, Fife, Washington 180. September 1, 2012, Denis Chabot, 38, Caucasian, Houston, Texas 181. September 14, 2012, Bill Williams, 60, Caucasian, Everett, Washington 182. November 29, 2012, Robert Maurina, 46, Caucasian, West Allis, Wisconsin 183. December 13, 2012, Philip Coleman, 38, Black, Chicago, Illinois 184. December 25, 2012, Kevin Culp, 29, Black, Richmond, Washington 185. January 1, 2013, Andrew Layton, 26, Caucasian, Mankato, Minnesota 186. February 23, 2013, Christopher Parker, 33, Caucasian, Spokane, Washington 187. April 19, 2013, Anthony Howard, 51, Black, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Update: The original version of this post didn't include Guy Guthrie's moniker; it was released about fifty minutes after original publication. We've inserted his name into the previous text.

More from our Follow That Story archive circa February 2011: "Marvin Booker lawsuit to establish pattern of police brutality in Denver, attorney says."


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