City of Hampton settles with family of man who died after being tased

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by 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on March 19, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 20 at 4:51 AM

Taser death

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3/19/2014 UPDATE: The City of Hampton has agreed to pay  $500,000.00 to settle a case brought by the family of Hatchel P. "Trey" Adams, III, who died  December 11, 2009. 

Following the announcement, the family also released a statement saying they don't want this happening to anyone else with mental illness. The family says they'd like to see a number of initiatives implemented in Hampton to prevent incidents such as these. 

Full statement from Adams family: 

My son, Hatchel P. “Trey” Adams, III, was a hard working business professional who was a Cum Laude graduate of Morehouse College, a talented and creative musician, and a loving son and brother who tragically died before his time.  He was a taxpaying citizen who owned his home and was developing his music business.  The police were serving an Emergency Custody Order due to his mental illness and were supposed to take him to a hospital where there was a bed waiting for him.  Instead, they approached the situation as if were a criminal, and he was not.  They were not there to serve a warrant but to assist someone who had a medical condition and needed help.  Instead of helping him, they went inside his home, and he ended up dying.  Contrary to what was previously reported in the media, there were no drugs present in my son’s system.  This was determined by the Commonwealth of Virginia Forensic Laboratory for his blood and liver, and the brain tissue was tested by an independent laboratory, NMS, also finding no drugs.    

The city says they did not do anything wrong, but we disagree with them.  They did do something wrong; why else would they be settling the case for this amount of money?  If you have any questions about the merits of the case, please call my attorney Verbena Askew. 

I want to make sure this doesn’t happen again to any mentally ill person who is in need of help.  I would like the city to make some changes, and until they do, this more likely than not will happen again. 

In a statement released by the city Wednesday afternoon, officials said in part, "In reaching this agreement, the City has eliminated the possibility of a substantial jury verdict based on sympathy rather than the law given the tragic circumstances of the case."

Full statement from City of Hampton:

The City of Hampton has reached an agreement to resolve a claim brought by the family of Hatchel P. "Trey" Adams, III. In reaching this agreement, the City has eliminated the possibility of a substantial jury verdict based on sympathy rather than the law given the tragic circumstances of the case.
The officers involved in the incident which forms the basis of this claim were faced with an extremely difficult and dynamic situation. Both a review by the Hampton Police Division Office of Professional Standards and a separate and independent review by the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, found that the officers acted properly and in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia as well as appropriate police practices and procedure. The City agrees with these findings.
The City of Hampton has agreed to pay the sum of $500,000.00 to resolve this matter. As the Virginia General Assembly has recently recognized, mental illness is a critical issue which challenges localities and law enforcement agencies throughout the Commonwealth. As a result, the City will continue to improve and enhance training and policy in dealing with mentally ill individuals and their families.

Following the announcement, the family also released a statement saying they don't want this happening to anyone else with mental illness. The family says they'd like to see a number of initiatives implemented in Hampton to prevent incidents such as these. 

 *****

HAMPTON -- A 36-year-old man died after being tased by police in Hampton Thursday night.

Police say they were serving a warrant at the home of Hatchel Pate Adams III on Overlook Court about 11:00 p.m. when Adams started swinging a samurai sword at the officers.

Police say they used a taser to subdue Adams but he removed the taser probes and continued to swing the sword at the officers.

Police used the taser a second time on Adams and attempted to place him in custody. That's when police say he stopped breathing. 

Police called paramedics and began CPR. Adams was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead at 1:15 a.m.

Overlook Court in Hampton remained blocked off Friday afternoon as police continued to investigate.

Police were attempting to serve an emergency custody order on Adams so he could  undergo a mental evaluation. Emergency custody orders are often issued when it's believed a person may be a threat to himself or others.

An autopsy will be performed to determine what caused Adams' death.

His mother said he had a diagnosed mental illness but had no other previous medical issues.

The four officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. Police say this is standard procedure.

Hampton PD has been using tasers since 2003. This is the first time a subject has died in the city after being tased by officers. 

 

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