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Body camera provides timeline of tasing-related fatality

  • By Sarah Fay Campbell
  • |
  • May. 23, 2016 - 7:06 AM

Body camera provides timeline of tasing-related fatality

The Newnan Times-Herald

Sherman, seen here in a video still, is momentarily calm, but trying to break out of his handcuffs as he sits in the back of his family’s rental vehicle alongside I-85, shortly before he began struggling with deputies.

The body camera video of Coweta County Deputy Sam Smith, the second deputy to arrive on the scene of a distress call on Interstate 85 Nov. 20, provides a timeline of the events that night that ended in the death of Chase Sherman, 32, of Destin, Fla.

Smith, and Deputy Joshua Sepanski, were the first to arrive at the scene. Sherman was acting erratically and his mother, Mary Ann Sherman, had called Coweta 911 for assistance. Chase Sherman’s fiancée, Patti Galloway, was driving and pulled their rented Jeep Patriot off on the far left-hand side of the interstate, just inside Coweta, south of Exit 56.

Smith arrives 33 seconds after Sepanski, according to the dash camera video from Sepanski's patrol car. The first few minutes of Sepanski's encounter with the Sherman family was not recorded by Sepanski's body camera.

Smith arrives at the vehicle at the 1:50 mark on his video. He is standing behind Sepanski, who is leaning inside the rear passenger door. Yelling can be heard, and Sepanski is struggling with someone in the car. Smith goes around to the driver’s side, which is against the concrete barrier wall. Chase Sherman’s father, Kevin, can be seen next to Sepanski, and both are struggling with Chase Sherman, who is already in handcuffs. Kevin Sherman then exits the vehicle.

At 2:20, Smith asks “where do you need me.” At the time, Galloway was standing at the driver’s side. Smith calls out on the radio at 2:40, requesting a medic. Chase Sherman can be heard yelling.

At 3 minutes, Smith looks in and Sherman is sitting up in the back seat, and is fairly still. Sepanski's Taser is pointed at him, but they appear to be talking.

Smith goes to the back at 3:28 and talks to Kevin Sherman who tells Smith they had just come back from the Dominican Republic, and Chase “went nuts down there, literally nuts.” He tells Smith he thinks Chase was tasered before leaving Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and “he got instantly worse.”

The family didn’t take their connecting flight home to Destin, and decided to drive instead. Chase had to be escorted to the rental vehicle. “And we can’t handle him. He’s trying to wreck us and everything else,” Kevin Sherman says.

At 4:15, Smith looks in the rear driver’s side window. Chase is sitting up, and appears to be trying to bend or break the cuffs, using his knee as leverage. He’s fairly calm, and Sepanski is talking to him.

At 4:26, Sepanski starts yelling “if you move I’m going to tase you” then says “let go of my…” and Chase appears to lunge across the back seat towards Sepanski.

Smith walks around again and then back to the driver’s side. The door is open, but cannot be opened fully because of the concrete barrier. At 4:41, Sepanski yells to Smith “29, tase him. 29, tase his ass, tase him.”

Smith points the Taser and deploys it at 4:48, with both prongs making contact with Sherman’s back over his t-shirt.

At 4:58, Sepanski is holding Chase down, with Chases’s head under his left arm and Sepanski's right arm on his shoulder. He’s trying to call for help on the radio.

At 5:06, Chase grabs at something and Sepanski says “let go of the damn thing, now,” and hits him several times around the head to get him to release what he had grabbed. “Sit your ass up,” Sepanski says.

“Ok, ok,” Chase says and looks at Smith.

“What’s your problem buddy? That’s a good way to get shot. I tell you what, you grab my Taser again, it’s gonna be on,” Sepanski says at 5:18, and has this hand on Chase’s throat, holding him down.

Chase speaks at 5:31, but it is intelligible, other than what seems to be “hubba, hubba.”

Sepanski tells Chase’s mother, who is in the front passenger seat that “y’all are gonna need to go somewhere.”

“No, you’re not going to to shoot him, do you hear me?” she says.

“Do you understand? This is for our protection. He’s trying to take my Taser from me ma’am,” Sepanski says.

As Sepanski is speaking to Mrs. Sherman, at 5:46, Chase tries to grab something from Smith, either his radio or Taser. The radio and its cable can be seen wrapped around his hand seconds later.

One deputy yells “stop fighting, stop fighting.” One yells “I’m gonna tase you” at 5:53.

At 5:56, Smith says “he’s got my Taser, he’s got my Taser.”

At 6:08, Sepanski tases Sherman and Smith yells “stop fighting, let go of my Taser.”

At 6:13 Sherman says “ok, ok. I quit, I quit.” Another Taser sound is heard, and another at 6:23.

Sherman’s feet are out of the driver’s side door. One deputy says “I can’t get him out. Why is our damn radio not getting out.”

At 6:31, Sherman is seen grabbing at something in Sepanski's hands, and at 6:34 he is kicking his feet and apparently kicks Smith, who says “damn it.”

At 6:35, Coweta Firefighter/EMT Danny Elliot is seen entering the front passenger seat.

A Taser is deployed at 6:36 through 6:41.

At this time, Sherman is on his back in the back seat. Elliot is helping to hold him, and Smith is outside of the vehicle. Someone is yelling “stop fighting, stop fighting.”

At 6:45, the men roll chase onto the floorboard, he is on his knees with his head down. One man says “he broke my radio.”

At 6:50, both Tasers are pressed against Sherman’s body, but there is no sound of them actually stunning.

At 6:55, Sherman says “Ok, I quit. I quit” and someone calls for “Matt.”

At 7:10, Sherman is lower in the floorboard and Elliot is holding him with both hands, from the front seat. Sherman says something that is muffled and unintelligible and Smith says “let me find my radio” and walks away. At 7:34, Sherman makes another muffled sound.

At 7:58 someone tells him “don’t move.”

At 8:02 Sepanski tells Smith to “get some weight on him now” and the Taser deploys. Sherman says “OK.”

Smith says he can’t get in the door to put weight on him.

At 8:14 Elliot says “I think I’ve got him pretty good right here.”

Smith yells “stop resisting.” Very little movement can be seen from Sherman. He’s tased again at 8:19.

At 8:20, Sherman says “OK.” Elliot climbs up and puts his knee into Sherman’s back. Sherman says “oh, s**t.”

At 8:30, someone is again heard to say “stop resisting, relax.” At times, Sepanski also has his knee on Sherman.

At 8:46 Smith says “don’t kick me.” At 8:52 someone says “stop resisting now, stop resisting.”

At 9:07 someone says “stop resisting” and Sherman exclaims “arghhhh.” Another Taser deploys. There is very little if any movement from Sherman after this point.

Elliot says something about being against Sherman’s back.

At 9:15 someone says “it ain’t hurting him.”

At 9:18, someone says something about “need to come up for air.”

At 9:21, Smith tells Elliot to “watch your knee” because there are Taser prongs in Sherman’s back.

At 9:25, someone says “I’ve got a good hold on him now.”

At 9:29, Sherman possibly makes a sound and is told to stop resisting.

At 9:34, someone says “he’s out of his mind.”

At 9:45, someone calls to 911 to “get us somebody out here. We’re 10-4 right now.”

At 10:29, someone tells Sherman “relax, we’re trying to get you some help.”

At 11:08 Elliot reaches forward to turn off the vehicle and takes some weight off Sherman. At 11:25 someone asks “you good buddy? You good? Say something? Say something?” By this time, Elliot has removed his knee from Sherman’s back and is only using his hands.

At 11:43 Elliot reaches up toward Sherman’s neck, apparently to check for a pulse, and then exits the vehicle.

After Elliot leaves, Sepanski puts his hand against Sherman’s neck.

At 12:01, an EMT, possibly Elliot, returns and says that Sherman “got quiet” when the men smelled that he had defecated on himself.

At 12:03 a deputy asks if Sherman is still breathing.

At 12:12 Sepanski is seen pulling the Taser prongs off of Sherman’s shirt.

At 12:18 Smith steps back and the view is momentarily obscured. At 12:31, someone is feeling the back of Sherman’s chest.

At 12:58 Smith asks “you got a pulse?” The answer can’t be heard. “You wanna go ahead and pull him out?” Smith asks.

The EMT says yes. Smith walks to the other side to where other deputies and Georgia State Troopers have arrived and asked what’s going on. “He’s unconscious right now, we’re trying to pull him out,” Smith says.

At 13:22, Sherman is pulled out to yells of “get him out, he ain’t breathing, he ain’t breathing.” One officer on the outside of the vehicle is knocked over as Sherman is pulled out.

Chest compressions being at 13:31 and a woman is heard screaming. At 14:30 an older deputy is seen removing prongs and wires as chest compressions continue. At 16:07 that deputy tells Smith to get the stretcher out of the ambulance. At 1610, Sherman is loaded onto the gurney (stretcher) and walked to the waiting ambulance as chest compressions continue. At 16:55, Sherman is loaded onto the ambulance.

Sherman never regained consciousness and was later pronounced dead. The cause of Sherman’s death was determined by the state medical examiner to be “sudden death during an altercation with law enforcement with several trigger pulls of an electric control device, prone positioning on the floor of a motor vehicle and compression of the torso by the body weight of another individual.”

The videos were released Friday by the Coweta Circuit District Attorney’s Office. DA Pete Skandalakis said his office’s review is not yet complete and no decision has been made about whether any charges will be filed against Sepanski, Smith, or Elliot.