Deputies say a man they arrested after an argument with his girlfriend early Monday started kicking at the door and window of the patrol car he was in and died after an officer used a stun gun on him.
Relatives of the dead man, James Doe, 31, say he is the victim of abuse at the hands of law enforcement. They said Monday they are trying to find an attorney to represent them.
“I think the police overdid it with force like they always do,” said Loren Lampley, Doe’s cousin. The family gathered in Lauderdale Lakes hours after his death. “We are really devastated at what the police did to our family,” she said.
Just before 2 a.m. Monday, deputies responded to a call about a man trying to kick down a woman’s apartment door in the 200 block of Lake Pointe Drive in Oakland Park, said Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Dani Moschella. The Lake Pointe gated community is south of Commercial Boulevard and west of the Oak Tree Country Club.
Doe had knocked down the door and was inside the apartment when the deputies arrived, Moschella said. They took him outside and got him in the back of the patrol car, where he became violent, repeatedly kicking the door and window, Moschella said.
“He ignored all verbal commands and a deputy deployed a Taser one time,” she said.
Soon the deputies realized that Doe was unresponsive, Moschella said. They started to do CPR and called Oakland Park Fire Rescue. He was taken to Florida Medical Center and pronounced dead.
“This is the type of situation where a Taser is usually a very successful, nonlethal weapon,” Moschella said. “It helps the deputies avoid having to go hands-on.”
The Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine the cause of death.
Doe’s relatives questioned deputies’ handling of Doe, who they described as a thin, 130-pound man.
“He’s so small, they didn’t have to use that much force,” said Lampley.
Affectionately referring to Doe as “Bobo,” another cousin, Gideon Smith, said Doe once lived with the woman he had argued with, his girlfriend, but had recently moved out and was staying with relatives.
He said his cousin went to the apartment Sunday night to see about mating dogs when the argument broke out.
Doe is survived by a daughter, Smith said.
According to court records, Doe has been arrested 11 times since 1997. He was convicted of loitering, prowling and resisting arrest in 2001, driving without a license in 2005 and cocaine possession in 2007.
Records show he has also been charged with burglary, firing a weapon, larceny, grand theft auto and carrying a concealed weapon. What happened in those cases is unclear.