Pembroke Pines police cleared in man’s death — (Sun Sentinal)

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Sun Sentinal

By Robert Nolin

November 5, 2004

Pembroke Pines police won’t face charges in a case in which a man died after being shot with electrified darts and hogtied, a Broward County grand jury has concluded.

But the panel recommended that restraining suspects by hogtying should be banned statewide.

In a seven-page report made public Thursday, the grand jury said police did not intentionally or negligently kill Kerry O’Brien, 31, nearly a year ago on Nov. 10. The aspiring writer died from asphyxiation after being hogtied during a scuffle with police, the jurors said, but the death was accidental.

“Criminal charges against any involved individuals are not warranted,” the report stated.

The man’s mother, however, remains bitter.

“He’s dead. He didn’t do anything. Somebody’s responsible for it,” said Rosemary O’Brien of Davie.

Pembroke Pines police would not comment, saying only that a statement may be released today. “There’s nothing available now, everybody’s out of contact,” spokesman Ken Hall said.

O’Brien, clad only in blue swim trunks, was acting bizarrely at the intersection of 146th Avenue and Sheridan Street, lying in the road and running in traffic. His family said he had suffered from depression and was taking medication, but had never exhibited such behavior.

When medics encountered him, O’Brien cursed and lunged at them. Police then arrived and shot him several times with a Taser gun, which fires electric darts that emit a 50,000-volt shock for up to five seconds. The Taser had no effect. Police tackled O’Brien, the grand jury said, and cuffed his hands behind him. Medics injected him with a sedative, which didn’t work, the jury said. When O’Brien, a large man, kept kicking, police put him in a “prone-hobbled-restraint,” meaning they hogtied his legs to his handcuffs.

Within minutes he turned pale and limp, stopped breathing and died.

“He didn’t do this to himself, somebody did this to him,” Rosemary O’Brien said. “Somebody’s going to have to take responsibility for his death.”

O’Brien, a pizza deliverer, lived with his mother and one sister in Davie and was described by family members as gentle and loving.

The jury suggested that legislators outlaw hogtying.

Robert Nolin can be reached at rnolin@sun-sentinel.com or 954-385-7912.