Tony Brown of Riviera Beach, Florida was critically injured Saturday after a police officer used a Taser on him during a chase, news sources report. Brown was climbing an eight-foot tall fence when an officer used the Taser; the shock caused Brown to plummet to the ground head-first. Brown was taken to a nearby hospital and placed on life support following the incident. It remains to be seen whether the officer who fired the Taser will face any legal repercussions. So far, reports have not identified the officer. It is unclear whether any of Brown’s relatives will file a lawsuit.
Sources say Brown was in trouble with the law during this recent incident. In 2005, an Okeechobee County judge found Brown guilty on a charge of lewd or lascivious conduct with a child less than 16 years of age. The charge meant that Brown was required to register as a sex offender every time he moved.
After getting out of jail, Brown started staying with a friend, Sam Homes, in Riviera Beach. According to Holmes, Brown was a “good man” who made a living fixing up cars. However, Holmes says Brown was suffering from a drug addiction. “He got caught up in the wrong doggone way,” Holmes told reporters.
Police recently arrested Brown again after he failed to file as a sex offender with the state of Florida, reports say. Holmes went to Zeke’s Bail Bonds, run by Marcus Emanuel, and bonded Brown out of Jail. According to reports, Brown later failed to show up for court and went on the lam. Sources say Brown had been living in a stolen pickup truck and kept on the move to avoid arrest.
On March 30, Emanuel of Zeke’s Bail Bonds went to police and asked for assistance in apprehending Brown. Detectives tracked Brown and the pickup down to Sixth Street in Rivera Beach. Brown reportedly led police on a brief chase before surrendering to officers.
Police took Brown to the Riviera Police Department to sign documentation. While at the station, officers reportedly removed Brown’s handcuffs. Brown ran out the door and sprinted across the station’s parking lot, sources say. Officers pursued him to an eight-foot high barbed wire fence, which Brown began to scale. Brown had nearly reached the top of the fence when an officer shot him with a Taser. The high voltage shock caused Brown to fall head first onto the pavement below.
Paramedics rushed Brown to St. Mary’s Medical Center. He remains there in critical condition and on life support. Acquaintances of Brown’s say he is not expected to recover, though doctors have not released an official statement.
According to reports, police are investigating as to whether it was the right decision to use a Taser on Brown when the officer knew he would likely fall. The county sheriff’s officer bans officers from using Tasters “in any area where a fall could result.” However, the Riviera Beach Police Station only advises officers against using Tasers on subjects that are “near slanted rooftops or on edges of tall buildings.”
Others in the field seem to think that the action was uncalled for. “The use of the Taser was not appropriate because he’s eight feet off the ground,” a former California officer said to reporters. “A reasonable officer would know he’s going to fall.”
Meanwhile, Emanuel of Zeke’s Bail Bonds wants to know why officers removed Brown’s restraints in the first place. “He’s a registered sex offender, he has a violent history, plus he’s a runner — you know because he already tried to run,” Emanuel commented. “Why would you uncuff him? That’s the part that shot off the red flag to me.”