BILLINGS, Mont. — The Billings Police Department is conducting an internal investigation into whether officers acted properly when they used a stun gun four times on an apparently intoxicated man who went into cardiac arrest and eventually died.
None of the four officers has been suspended or placed on leave while the investigation is under way, Chief Rich St. John said Wednesday.
The review will look at whether the officers followed department procedure and took into account the hazards associated with use of a Taser on an intoxicated person when they stunned Ryan Michael Bain on Sunday night.
“The internal review case is looking at just that question, among others,” St. John said.
Human-rights groups such as Amnesty International say shocks from stun guns may increase a risk of heart failure in cases where people under the influence of drugs. St. John said data exists that supports and goes against that assertion, and he could not say whether that is true.
Bain, 31, was arrested late Sunday after an off-duty Yellowstone County sheriff’s deputy saw a naked man run down the street and enter a house.
The deputy jumped out of his van and gave chase. Authorities said the man left the house and jumped in the deputy’s van, which was still running.
The deputy caught up with the vehicle after it hit a parked car, by which time four officers from the Billings Police Department had arrived. Police said they were forced to shock the man with a stun gun — twice on the back and once on the legs — to get him under control.
Police Sgt. Kevin Iffland said the stun gun was set to deliver a less intense shock.
Bain continued to fight at the jail and was shocked again on the legs.
“He was very violent, he had the capability of hurting our staff, the police department staff and hurting himself,” Yellowstone County Sheriff Jay Bell said, explaining why the stun gun was used.
During the arrest, Bain told officers “he had been doing some sort of narcotic all day,” Bell said.
A detention staff nurse checked Bain’s blood pressure and pulse, noting that both were a little high, Bell said. Then a short time after Bain was placed in a holding cell, he went into cardiac arrest and was taken to the hospital.
About 11 minutes passed between Bain’s arrival at the jail and when officers called for an ambulance, St. John said.
Bain died Tuesday at St. Vincent Healthcare.
Officials are waiting for toxicology reports and a coroner’s inquest is planned.
Billings Gazette archives show Bain was shocked with a stun gun six times and sprayed with pepper spray during a March 2008 arrest on a burglary charge. Court records say after his arrest he told officers he had taken “too much” LSD and methamphetamine.
Court records show Bain received a five-year suspended sentence on a felony criminal endangerment conviction in 2003 and was sentenced to prison in 2005 for violating the terms of his probation.
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