05/07/10 — Autopsy: Spruill died of cocaine OD

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Autopsy: Spruill died of cocaine OD

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on May 7, 2010 1:46 PM

A 33-year-old Dollard Town Road man died of a cocaine overdose, not of an electric shock from a "Taser"-style electric stun gun used by Wayne County Sheriff's Office deputies, according to an autopsy report from the state Medical Examiner's Office.

Joe Nathan Spruill Jr. reportedly became unruly during an arrest for disorderly conduct on Jan. 27, leading a sheriff's deputy to use an electroshock weapon to try to disable him, authorities said.

The incident took place at Greystone Village, a subdivision off of Dollard Town Road, authorities said.

Deputies Martin McAlduff and Zachary Kinlaw responded to a report of a fight around 5:30 a.m. that day.

Authorities found no sign of a fight, but as deputies walked Spruill back to his nearby home, they said that he became resistant and difficult to handle.

McAlduff "tased" him and then immediately called for an emergency medical services unit, which is Sheriff's Office policy, authorities said.

Spruill was responsive after the electroshock weapon was used. It delivers a 50,000-volt shock of electricty when deployed.

Sheriff's Office Capt. Tom Effler said the death was the first time in the Sheriff's Office's history of using the weapon that an injury had been reported after use of a stun gun.

Effler said he wanted to limit his comments because he was not sure if an official release of information had been issued by the State Bureau of Investigation, which was involved in the follow-up probe of Spruill's death.

"We didn't feel like our officer did anything wrong," Effler said.

Sheriff Carey Winders said that Taser International, the company that makes the stun guns, was notified of the incident.

The company told authorities that to their knowledge, the guns had never killed anyone.

"They said a Taser had never been involved in a death, so we did feel like there was something else, here," Winders said. "Of course, the family is upset, and any time law enforcement make an arrest and someone dies, that's why we want to investigate it and find out the truth."