A cause of death has been determined for a Pelham Bay man Tasered twice by a NYPD sergeant.
According to Julie Bolcer, NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner’s public affairs director, the medical examiner has ruled the police-involved death of Ariel Galarza a homicide.
Galarza died from cardiac arrest following physical exertion, restraint and use of a conducted electrical weapon in a person with hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, acute drug intoxication of cocaine and n-ethylpentylone and obesity.
The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies n-ethylpentylone as a type of synthetic cathinone, more commonly known as ‘bath salts’.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse stated synthetic cathinones are unregulated, mind-altering substances marketed as cheap substitutes for other stimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine.
OCME added Galarza’s death resulted from another person’s actions and not primarily from natural causes.
“The classification does not imply any statement about intent or culpability and as with all classifications made by OCME, the evaluation of the legal implications of this classification is a function of the District Attorney and the criminal justice system,” Bolcer explained.
As previously reported, 45th Precinct police officers responded on Wednesday, November 2 at 5:35 p.m. to a call of an emotionally disturbed man armed with a knife behaving violently at 1840 Mayflower Avenue.
Upon arrival, three uniformed officers and a sergeant were confronted by Galarza, 49, who allegedly threatened them with an intact glass bottle when they entered his basement apartment inside the multi-family, 2-story house.
Sergeant William Melrose, a 13-year veteran, discharged his Taser at Galarza who fell to the floor, but quickly recovered and continued to struggle with officers attempting to restrain him.
A second Taser jolt was delivered by Melrose by pressing the device directly against Galarza’s body, an approved NYPD tactic called ‘dry stun’.
While in custody, Galarza entered cardiac arrest, however police were able to administer CPR.
Galarza was rushed to Albert Einstein Hospital where he died at 7:22 p.m.
According to neighbors and published reports, Galarza struggled with learning disabilities, a mild form of asthma and suffered a stroke early last year.
Galarza’s family plans to sue the city and the NYPD for $10 million for the negligence, carelessness and recklessness of the NYPD, sergeant Melrose and other NYPD members in causing Galarza’s wrongful death.
“Though Galarza had underlying health problems, the fact of the matter is that he died of a heart attack caused by being shocked twice with a Taser,” expressed Sanford Rubenstein, the family’s lawyer.
Rubenstein is claiming that Galarza being Tasered twice violated the NYPD Patrol Guide.
The NYPD Patrol Guide states in cases of mentally ill or emotionally disturbed persons, physical force will only be used to the extent necessary to restrain the subject until delivered to a hospital or detention facility.
It also states Tasers should only be used against persons actively resisting, exhibiting active aggression or to prevent individuals from injuring themselves or others present.
NYS Attorney General Schneiderman’s Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit is investigating Galarza’s death under the state’s executive order granting the AG the authority to prosecute cases of unarmed civilians who die during confrontations with police.
Galarza’s family await the AG’s determination as to the issue of criminality regarding his death and has called for a grand jury.
Rubenstein said he and the family await a full report from the medical examiner when asked about the drugs found in Galarza’s system.
The NYPD declined to comment due to the ongoing litigation.