A Houston County Sheriff’s deputy has been placed on paid administrative leave after a Georgia man died early Monday during a struggle with authorities outside a local bar.
Dothan Police Chief Greg Benton said the incident occurred when officers responded to a report of a drunk and disorderly person at Houligans bar.
According to a statement from the Dothan Police Department, a Houston County Sheriff’s deputy used a Taser on the man at least twice after he continued to be combative.
Sheriff Andy Hughes and Benton answered questions on Monday about the circumstances around the death of 43-year-old Johnnie Kamahi Warren.
“We won’t know full cause of death until an autopsy has been completed,” Hughes said.
Houston County Coroner Robert Byrd said he pronounced Warren dead at 3:16 a.m. in the emergency room at Flowers Hospital. Byrd said Warren lived in Forest Park, Ga., with his wife, and had been in Dothan on business.
Benton said the Dothan Police Department received the call at 1:48 a.m. from Houligans, located at the intersection of Montgomery Highway and Westgate Parkway. He said Warren apparently became disorderly inside the business, which led three employees to take him outside as he continued to behave in a combative manner.
Hughes said a sheriff’s deputy was close by, and when he arrived he saw three men struggling with what appeared to be an intoxicated patron on the ground outside the business.
“When he got to the scene, he deployed a Taser in an attempt to get him under control,” Hughes said.
Benton said three to four Dothan police officers arrived shortly after the deputy used the Taser. As the deputy and the three to four officers managed to handcuff Warren, he started going in and out consciousness.
CPR was administered by the Dothan Fire Department and he was then taken to Flowers Hospital where efforts were made to get Warren breathing again, but he died.
Benton said a Dothan police officer suffered a hand injury during the incident, and will be assigned to “light” duty.
Benton said Dothan police arrested Warren in December on a misdemeanor public intoxication charge for an incident that occurred at the same business. Officials with the city magistrate’s office said Warren had a scheduled court hearing on Monday for that public intoxication charge.
“This is one of those things you never want to happen,” Benton said. “We’re just glad our officers used the appropriate amount of force for what happened.”
Hughes said his office has turned the Taser over to investigators with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation. He said ABI has opened an investigation into the incident.
“They don’t take these investigations lightly,” Hughes said. “We’ve been through several of them.”
Warren was the second person to die during an incident within the last five years involving the use of a Taser and the Houston County Sheriff’s Office.
Nicholas Cody, 27, of Florida, died about a week after Houston County Sheriff’s deputies performed a traffic stop on the vehicle he was driving on June 15, 2008, on U.S. 231. Cody was struck by a Taser during the drug-related traffic stop.
Hughes said after the incident that Cody swallowed cocaine as the deputy chased him.
According to an earlier Dothan Eagle report, an autopsy reported Cody died from excited delirium, a side effect, and not an overdose, related to drug use.
Cody’s mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Hughes, the Houston County Sheriff’s Office and Taser International, but according to federal court records the case was dismissed in December.