On Friday, a 32-year-old man who was having a violent psychotic episode died after a struggle with Coweta County Sheriff’s Office deputies, during which he was tased multiple times.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the “use of force” incident to determine whether any criminal laws were violated. Once the investigation is complete, it will be turned over to the Coweta District Attorney’s Office, according to Fred Wimberly with the GBI. An investigation by the GBI can be requested by any law enforcement or judicial agency.
During a nearly 11 minute 911 call late Friday, Mary Ann Sherman told dispatchers that her son, Chase Alan Sherman of Destin, Fla., was “freaking out.”
“He’s going to cause us to have a wreck,” she told a Coweta 911 dispatcher. “He’s crazy, he’s on some kind of drug,” she says, and then screams were heard.
Mrs. Sherman, her husband, her son and her son’s fiancée were heading south on Interstate 85, just past Exit 56, when the call came in at 9:07 p.m. Chase Sherman’s fiancée was driving the rented Jeep Patriot, and Sherman was in the back seat. A few minutes into the call, the fiancée pulled the vehicle over and parked in the left-hand emergency lane, with flashers on, waiting for help to arrive.
Mrs. Sherman was asked by the dispatcher what was causing the incident.
“Drugs. Drugs. He’s hallucinating. He needs help, he needs to be taken to a mental hospital,” she said. “He’s going to kill us all if we don’t.”
The drug that apparently caused Sherman’s psychotic episode is a legal drug that is known by several names, including “Spice” and “synthetic marijuana.” It is sold by many brands as an “herbal incense” marked “not for human consumption.”
Mrs. Sherman told the dispatcher that her son hadn’t used drugs “for a while,” but that “he did Spice and it messed his brain up.” She said she didn’t know how long ago he had used it. The dispatcher wasn’t familiar with Spice.
When deputies from the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office arrived, they attempted to gain control of Sherman. During the struggle, one of the three deputies used a Taser on Sherman multiple times, according to Wimberly.
A press release from the GBI states that Sherman continued to resist the deputies, and medical personnel arrived. At some point, Sherman stopped fighting and went into medical distress. Deputies and EMS started performing CPR, and Sherman was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
As part of the investigation, Wimberly said they will be doing interviews with those involved, and will also be waiting on the autopsy and toxicology reports. Wimberly said it’s unknown how long the investigation will take, but it will take more than 30 days.
On the 911 recording,
Mrs. Sherman wasn’t sure where they were on I-85, and it took several minutes for Coweta 911 to locate the vehicle.
“Hit him in the head, hit him in the stomach,” Mrs. Sherman is heard screaming. She tells the dispatcher that they are trying to keep Sherman in the vehicle. “He bit his girlfriend, really bad. Really, really bad.”
“He needs to go to some place – a mental institution,” she says. “Right now he’s quiet. But we need you. He doesn’t know any of us. He says he doesn’t know us.”
Shortly after she says he’s quieted down, the screaming begins again.
“How are they going to get him out without him getting hurt?” she asks the dispatcher shortly before officers arrive. The dispatcher doesn’t provide an answer.