GREENWOOD, Ind.– Greenwood Police held a press conference Wednesday afternoon regarding an investigation into the death of a man who died nearly two weeks after an officer used a Taser on him.
The incident occurred on May 29. Greenwood police said Charlie Todero, 30, was “…exhibiting strange and dangerous behavior, walking in and out of traffic…”
Police revealed Wednesday that Todero had been walking in and out of traffic with a bible, claiming to be Jesus Christ. A Taser was used as Todero walked into traffic in order to protect him from potentially being hit by a car. He was also refusing to comply with loudly-spoken commands from officers.
“Imagine yourself on the side of the road with a person not listening to you, trying to walk into traffic. He’s obviously of a larger nature, he’s a stronger person, the officer did the best he could do,” Chief John Laut said.
The Taser was deployed 16 times over three minutes. Police said that is unusually high, but Todero was not responding to the Taser and it may have been caught on his clothes.
Police said the Taser was not used after Todero was in handcuffs. While in the ambulance, police said he continued to be combative. Medicine was administered to calm him down, and he eventually went into cardiac arrest when he reached the hospital. He was put into a medically-induced coma and died nearly two weeks later.
CBS4 spoke to Todero’s brother, James, on Monday. James Todero and his family questioned what really happened, saying Charlie’s father had just died and he had attended his funeral two days prior, and that he may have been having some kind of mental breakdown.
“There’s like a black hole, there’s missing information. What happened to Charlie?” James Todero said. “I just don’t believe that my brother had to die for this.”
Police indicated that Todero had a lengthy criminal history, including more than 50 incidents with police and 15 arrests dating back to 1998.
Todero said his brother was getting his life together. His last arrest was in 2013.
The body camera video picks up after the initial incident and use of the Taser. In one video, you can hear the officer deploying the Taser again as he and fellow officers try to handcuff Todero, though he is already on the ground.
The video also makes clear that the officer, Lieutenant Brian Blackwell, knew Todero well. At one point, he says to medics, “Charlie Todero, you guys are familiar with him at all? He’s been kind of out of the news for a while.”
At another point in the video, another officer says this to Blackwell: “Is he just going to the hospital? He hasn’t been violent, we could sit him up there and take the handcuffs off.” Blackwell declines.
Medics are also seen in the video attempting to remove a Taser prong from Todero’s back, but are unable to do so because it is buried so deep. Todero continues to mumble throughout the incident but does not appear to make any strong movements to try and release himself.
Blackwell repeatedly tries to talk to Todero and figure out what is going on.
“We’re not taking you to jail, bud, you’re going to the hospital, okay? But they need to know what you’re on,” Blackwell says.
The full autopsy report has not been completed, but police believe Todero died of natural causes. He had liver issues and Hepatitis C. Brain swelling may have been a factor in his mental state, police said.
The Greenwood Police Department reiterated that their officers took the appropriate actions during this situation and that no actions of the part of the officers directly led to Todero’s death.
Todero’s family, meanwhile, told CBS4 they have hired a lawyer and are currently focused on preparing to say goodbye to their brother.