Courts & Crime

Tasers shelved by Charlotte, N.C., police after second suspect dies

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is taking all of its Tasers off the streets for as many as 45 days, after a suspect died when he was shocked by an officer's X26 Taser at a Lynx light rail station.

Police say Lareko Williams, 21, was beating and choking a woman when confronted by Officer Michael Forbes at the station on Woodlawn Road around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. Williams was pronounced dead about an hour later.

The death came just a day after a federal jury in Charlotte awarded $10 million to the family of 17-year-old Darryl Wayne Turner, who died in 2008 after a CMPD officer shocked him with a Taser.

In response to the jury's award against the company that makes Tasers, Charlotte City Attorney Mac McCarley said police officers would continue to use the weapons.

"It is still a very effective, nonlethal force to control a situation," he told the Observer Wednesday, just hours before the confrontation at the light rail station.

But the $10 million verdict and Wednesday's death are certain to revive debate over the weapons. Tasers can deliver a 50,000-volt shock that temporarily paralyzes suspects, and have been linked to hundreds of deaths across the country.

Earlier this year, the Union County town of Stallings stopped using Tasers because of liability issues.

CMPD on Thursday suspended use of its roughly 1,200 Tasers for 30 to 45 days as the weapons are tested to make sure they're working properly. The Taser used on Williams will be sent to an independent laboratory to be tested, police said.

The department will also review its Taser policies and procedures to ensure they're in line with established national standards.

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