COWETA COUNTY, Ga. — After months of investigation and review of video from the incident, the district attorney said Monday that the deputies who used a Taser on Chase Sherman 15 times will not face criminal charges.
"The death of Chase Sherman, while tragic in nature, is not a criminal matter and, therefore, will not be prosecuted further under state law," DA Peter Skandalakis said in an emailed statement.
Sherman's family was "profoundly disappointed" with the DA's decision and planned to file a multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit against all responsible parties, attorney Chris Stewart said Monday afternoon. The Sherman family will also seek a federal investigation.
"There was nothing accidental about the behavior of the officers and EMT that night," the Sherman family said in an emailed statement. "It is apparent that the District Attorney decided to ignore video of the incident and the facts. Instead, he opted to smear a dead man’s name and avoid doing his job representing the community."
During a November 2015 trip for a family wedding, Sherman, 32, had bouts of paranoia and wasn't able to sleep, his family told investigators. His family suspected he had taken drugs which caused his behavior.
At the Atlanta airport, Sherman’s family asked officers if he could be taken into custody, according to the DA's office, but officers had no reason to detain him. Instead of making the flight home to Florida from Atlanta, the family rented a car due to Sherman's behavior.
As the family drove south on I-85, Sherman tried to jump out of the car and onto the interstate and had bitten his fiancée, according to investigators. As his erratic behavior continued, a relative called 911 pleading for help.
"He is going to kill us all," the caller told the 911 operator.
The family parked the rental car next to the highway median, where deputies arrived and attempted to handcuff Sherman, video showed. Sherman was combative, so deputies deployed Tasers to subdue him.
"I'm dead. I'm dead!" said Sherman as he lay, handcuffed, face down on the floorboard of the car. He was being held down by the weight of an EMT after being shocked with a Taser by the deputies.
"I said I quit. I quit!" Sherman said.
Within minutes, Sherman was unresponsive. He was pulled from the car, but could not be revived. As they watched from a few feet away, Mary Ann Sherman turned to her husband and said, "They're killing him," her husband later told the AJC.
An autopsy determined Sherman died from a combination of factors, including the altercation, Tasers and EMT’s compression on his chest, which increased his heart rate and increased his need for oxygen, causing him to asphyxiate. Drugs were not detected, according to investigators.
The Sherman family plans to speak to the media Wednesday in Atlanta, Stewart said.
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