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Philadelphia teen dies after police use stun gun

Friday, October 8th, 2010

An autopsy is under way to determine if the death of a Philadelphia teen was caused by a police stun gun. The young man apparently had mental health issues, and was “tasered” twice after a lengthy confrontation with officers.

According to police records, officers had been to Patrick Johnson’s house 14 times in the past year, to break up domestic disturbances involving the 18-year-old.

This time, Johnson was breaking things, trying to set sticks on fire, and charged at officers after being asked to stop.

Debbie Plotnick from the Mental Health Association of South-Eastern Pennsylvania has helped facilitate police trainings. She says while Johnson’s death is a tragedy, it looks like police responded appropriately to the situation at hand:

Plotnick: When the call went in, they dispatched the specially trained crisis team officers, evidently, they were trying to de-escalate the situation, and when the situation was that the officers were being physically threatened, which under almost all circumstances, is non-lethal

Michelle Monzo of Montgomery County Emergency Service teaches crisis intervention to officers. She says the fact that Johnson and his problems were known to police doesn’t make the situation easier to handle:

Monzo: Actually, every crisis is different, and even if you have a rapport with someone, when they are in a crisis situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to be able to calm them down

The results of the autopsy may not come out until next week.

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