By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org
A neighbor who watched Daniel Tyson die last October during a confrontation with Hollywood police says officers twice shocked Tyson with a Taser after he was restrained facedown on the ground in handcuffs and leg shackles.
Eyewitness Leonarda Moore provided her detailed account in a sworn statement provided to a lawyer for Tyson’s family. In an interview, Moore said she declined to speak with city detectives who sought to question her that day because she was upset and she didn’t trust them.
“I was angry. The guy (Tyson) had an issue, but the extent of what they did was uncalled for and unjustified,” Moore said in an interview. “I understand that police officers put their lives on the line every day, but in this instance he was hogtied and handcuffed. What more do you want?”
A Hollywood Fire Rescue incident report obtained by FloridaBulldog.org says arriving EMS crew members found Tyson “with two barbs in upper back from PD Taser.” A Taser fires two small barbs that when deployed properly transmit a painful, incapacitating electrical jolt.
The Taser shots Moore witnessed were apparently the second and third fired by police at Tyson, who according to his mother was a mentally disturbed man with no criminal history. Minutes earlier, the first officer to arrive on the scene stunned an out-of-control Tyson with his Taser as he charged the officer brandishing a black sundial he’d grabbed off a wall.
Police have said Tyson hit Officer Alex Ramirez on the head, sending him to Memorial Regional Hospital where doctors needed 13 staples to close the gash.
Hollywood Police would not comment for this story. Coral Gables attorney Gary Friedman, who represents Tyson’s estate, said police also have told the family nothing.
“Zero, a total lockout. Stonewall,” Friedman said.
Police had no right to shoot Tyson with a Taser after he had been restrained, Friedman said.
“Clearly, the officers didn’t need to do that. Why they did it will hopefully be part of the investigation unless it gets totally whitewashed,” Friedman said.
AUTOPSY WITHHELD FROM FAMILY
The Broward Medical Examiner’s Office completed an autopsy on Tyson months ago, but as in a similar case involving another Taser-related death by police in Coconut Creek, refused to make it public – or release it to the dead man’s family – citing a “hold” by the police.
“It’s been awful,” said Tyson’s mother, Jean Suarez. “The fact that I haven’t even been able to know the cause of death has been horrible.”
Suarez, of Miami, said the medical examiner’s office also refused to allow her to see her son’s body while it was at the morgue. “They said we don’t do that here,” she said.
Tyson, who stood 5’8” tall and weighed about 175 pounds, was a 2001 graduate of Miami’s New World School of the Arts. His mother said he was a vocalist voted most likely to succeed.
Instead, after obtaining an associate’s degree from Broward College, Tyson developed chronic mental problems. Attorney Friedman said the diagnosis was schizophrenic affective disorder with bipolar tendencies, plus an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Suarez said the condition left her son disabled.
Tyson only recently had moved into the small apartment complex at 1836 Jackson Street at the time of his death.
According to Moore’s statement, Tyson was agitated the afternoon of Oct. 27, arguing with and yelling at a woman who had come to see him at his apartment. A few minutes later, Tyson appeared on his balcony naked.
“He was talking to the wall and to the air. He wasn’t talking to the lady. Then he was talking to a tree by his balcony,” Moore wrote. She called the landlord who called a police nonemergency number.
A WITNESS’S ACCOUNT
Five or 10 minutes later Moore saw an officer in the backyard. She made contact and explained the situation. Tyson again came out onto his balcony, this time with a robe on, “but the front was wide open and he was still naked,” the statement says. Moore went back inside her home and watched from the window.
The officer warned Tyson that he couldn’t be outside like that. Tyson then took his robe off, grabbed the sundial and came quickly down the stairs.
“Stop or I’m going to tase you,” the officer said. Instead, Tyson charged, holding the sundial “raised to about his shoulder level,” the statement says.
The officer fired, striking Tyson, who screamed but kept coming. The officer “hip-flipped Danny to the ground. I never saw Danny hit the officer and I never saw the black sundial strike the officer,” Moore wrote.
About a minute later, a second officer arrived and both struggled with Tyson, who was on his stomach. More officers soon arrived and the first officer left the area with a bleeding head. “Danny was screaming and yelling,” the statement says.
“I noticed that Danny had handcuffs on and leg shackles on. There were about 5 or 6 officers and I could hear them saying, ‘Stop fucking moving or we’re gonna tase you.’ One officer had a Taser pressed against the area below Danny’s left calf. I saw another officer stomp on Danny’s right hamstring.”
“There was more yelling by the police officers and then I heard the sound of the Taser (clicking noise),” the statement says. “At that point, seeing that Danny was restrained and thinking that he was not a threat to himself or others, I attempted to talk to one of the police officers that was looking on that there was a friend at Danny’s house that could maybe tell him what medication he needs or what is happening. He yelled at me to get back inside.”
Moore continued to watch. “More officers arrived. More yelling was going on. I heard a Taser go off again. The officers were still struggling with him even though Danny was still facedown and restrained at the wrist and ankles with officers still on him.”
Moore could see the muscles contracting in Tyson’s outstretched legs. “About 2-3 minutes later I heard no more yelling or screaming. I saw them turn Danny’s body over. His body was limp and one of the officers removed the leg shackles.”
With 15 to 20 people now in the yard, a police officer tried to revive Tyson with cardiopulmonary resuscitation before paramedics arrived. Moore later watched as they put Tyson’s lifeless body on a gurney and took him away.
Attorney Friedman said a lawsuit would soon be filed with a bill of particulars seeking disclosure of the complete autopsy and reports about the homicide investigation.