Koreatown DUI driver dies after police use Taser gun


The incident occurred near the intersection of 4th Street and Vermont Avenue.

According to authorities, LAPD officers pulled up to the scene of the car wreck around 11:20 p.m. The driver, police say, appeared to be drunk and was combative.

"This individual was involved in a hit-and-run crime. There may be some intoxication involved, a lot of physical exertion and that is usually the case with Tasers," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said.

Chief Beck says a Taser was used in this case. But the man, whose name has not been released, started having health problems and was pronounced dead Friday around 1 a.m. at a local hospital.

Dr. Stephen Kishineff, an emergency room physician at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, says most people underestimate the danger of the device.

He says the large burst of electricity from a Taser generally doesn't cause any serious problems in relatively healthy people. But drugs or underlying heart problems can turn a Taser into a lethal weapon.

"It would probably be unusual for a young man without any underlying coronary disease who is not on cocaine or methamphetamine to die a Taser related death," Dr. Kishineff said.

Chief Beck says on average, LAPD will have at least one Taser use a day without any serious health issues. Out of those hundreds of cases, Chief Beck says LAPD sees about three Taser-related fatalities each year.

"There is no way to take some violent person without some consequence," Chief Beck said. Whether it's the Taser, the baton or the pistol, there's always a consequence from applications of force."

The L.A. County Coroner's Office says an autopsy to determine the cause of the suspect's death is still pending.

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