Two portraits of one man — (The Denver Post)

SSRI Ed note: Man on cocaine and antidepressants dies after being tasered.

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The Denver Post

By Mike McPhee, Denver Post Staff Writer

Posted:   07/17/2007

Police say Albert Romero acted wildly and charged them before they shot him with a stun gun, but his family says, “The cops grabbed the wrong man.”

This family photograph, taken for Christmas 2005, shows Albert Romero with his wife, Debbie, and their two children, Albert Jr. and Destiny. (Post special)

The family of a middle-aged real estate agent who died early Monday after Denver police shot him with a Taser was incredulous about the version of events given by authorities.

Denver police said Albert Romero, 47, was acting wildly and flailing around outside when they arrived at his home at 6100 W. Yale Ave. about 3:15 a.m. Monday.

Police said Romero was out of control, striking at things, and charged police when they tried to arrest him. Police shot him with a Taser, then handcuffed him. Police called an ambulance, adhering to department procedure in the wake of someone being Tasered.

Romero’s family members painted a different picture – that of a loving, hardworking family man.

“He was a hard worker, a Christian man who didn’t smoke or drink,” said Romero’s stepson, Bobby Rivera, 30, who said he didn’t see the incident. “He was in good shape. He was a little overweight, but he was healthy. Yesterday, we were moving furniture; he was fine.

“He loved his kids. He took us fishing all over Colorado. We listened to (Atlanta-area pastor) Charles Stanley every morning.”

Romero’s grandson, 17-year- old Robert Ortiz, said the police version of his grandfather’s behavior didn’t make sense.

“He worked late into the night and used to walk his dogs at all hours,” Ortiz said. “I think it was someone else who was hitting cars and causing trouble. I think my grandfather was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

The cops grabbed the wrong man.”

Ortiz said Romero stopped by the Ortiz home at 10 p.m. Sunday, about five hours before he died, to pick up a movie he had loaned his daughter.

“He was happy. He did his little dance that he loved to do, ate some posole with us and left. He was fine,” said Ortiz.

Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said authorities do not know why Romero was acting wildly and that an investigation is underway.

A co-worker, Ron Biegler, from whom Romero rented office space, said he was a hard worker and a reputable man.

“I never, ever heard an unkind word about Albert,” said Biegler, who owns the real estate brokerage Metro Brokers- Jewell Plaza in Lakewood. “Our office was shocked. He was an extremely pleasant, extremely polite man. He always talked about the Lord and how well his life was going.”

Romero owned his own brokerage, Albert Romero & Associates.

Jackson said there has been only one other case in Denver in which someone died in the wake of being Tasered. In August 2004, Richard “Kevin” Karlo, 44, was Tasered, but an autopsy report showed that he died of a cocaine- and-antidepressant overdose. The chief medical examiner said the Taser did not cause Karlo’s death or serve as a contributing factor.

Staff writer John Ingold contributed to this report.