By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
They rushed him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:21 a.m., 47 minutes after the 911 call from the apartment complex.
Investigators back at the apartment complex learned that Colter, a chronic drug user who'd served time in prison on a drug conviction, had been smoking a "sherm" just before crashing through the third-story window. A sherm is a cigarette laced with PCP, which can induce delusions of invulnerability and superhuman strength.
Colter's autopsy revealed that, in addition to ingesting a large amount of PCP and Ecstasy, he had a badly damaged and enlarged heart. An assistant medical examiner ruled that the death was caused by "excited delirium, PCP toxicity" and a diseased heart.
(Excited delirium is a controversial diagnosis yet to be officially recognized by professional medical associations. Civil-liberties groups and plaintiffs' attorneys are among those who insist that medical examiners and law enforcement use the term to cover up police abuses. But it's very real to doctors and police who've seen its effects firsthand. To the cops who Tased Jesse Colter, he'd been a textbook example of the phenomenon.)
Homicide Detective Alex Femenia headed the investigation into the circumstances of Colter's death. He learned that the former high school football player had undergone open-heart surgery about six months before his demise.
Femenia says, "Blaming the Taser for this [would be] like blaming a car manufacturer for a pedestrian's death when he crosses the street in the dark on a green light.
What happened in the Colter case, the detective says, was: "We had a guy on drugs with a bad ticker who freaked out and put himself in a bad spot. I wonder what would have happened out there if that Taser hadn't stopped him."
Part two: "Death by Electrocutioner"
It appears the only reason a variety of "civil-rights groups" don't like the Taser is it takes money out of their pockets by minimizing "wrongful death" lawsuits.
Congratulations on a really great job on this story. As the brother of a police officer, I know what goes on out there and how many times that guns would be the right call over anything else. Tasers aren't perfect by any means as the story says, but they sure as hell are better than getting a bullet in the chest, or even better than getting the crap beat out of you because you won't stop. Everyone who trashes Taser should read this. You can use this as a letter or not, I just wanted to thank you.