Hawaii jury clears police officers in man’s stun gun death

HONOLULU — A federal jury in Hawaii has found police did not use excessive force against a man who died after being pepper sprayed and shot with a stun gun, a report said.

The jury in Honolulu ruled Thursday against the family of 38-year-old Sheldon Haleck in the $3 million lawsuit, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

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The plaintiffs argued the officers’ actions did not comply with use of force standards.

Haleck died in March 2015 after officers used pepper spray about a dozen times and shot him with a Taser three times within five minutes, authorities said.

Haleck was on methamphetamine while walking through traffic, police said.

Officers continued to use pepper spray because Haleck did not seem to be affected. Haleck was also not immediately immobilized by the stun gun before he became unresponsive and stopped breathing, authorities said.

He was declared dead at a hospital the next morning.

Haleck’s family brought the lawsuit against three officers. Such cases do not normally reach trial but the city chose not to settle, the newspaper reported.

An autopsy report attributed Haleck’s death to a physical altercation while acutely intoxicated with methamphetamine.

Officers testified Haleck was not aggressive but continued moving away as they tried to remove him from the street and they feared for Haleck’s safety as well as their own.

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City attorneys called expert witnesses who testified Haleck died of “excited delirium.”

The syndrome has been cited in dozens of deaths involving police struggles and has been criticized as a cover for excessive force, the newspaper reported.

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