Medical Examiner Determines ESW Caused Death

Medical Examiner Determines ESW Caused Death

Taser shock killed Thetford man, medical examiner finds

Medical examiner’s finding intensifies calls for reform in how Vermont officers use weapon

An electrical discharge from a Vermont state trooper’s Taser weapon caused the death of a Thetford man three months ago outside his home, the New Hampshire Medical Examiner’s Office advised Vermont State Police Friday.

Macadam Mason, 39, suffered “sudden cardiac death due to conducted electrical weapon discharge,” Vermont State Police reported late Friday afternoon in a statement relaying the conclusions from Mason’s autopsy in New Hampshire.

Mason died June 20 outside his Thetford home after Senior Trooper David Shaffer fired his Taser at Mason’s chest.

The finding on the cause of death spurred more calls for change in how Vermont law-enforcement officers are trained on and use Tasers.

State police have said Shaffer and three other troopers responded to Mason’s home that day because Mason had called a nearby hospital and threatened to kill himself and others. Shaffer confronted Mason and, knowing him to be unarmed, ordered him to lie on the ground. According to state police, Mason refused and instead yelled “aggressively,” made a fist and moved toward Shaffer, who responded by firing his Taser.[blockquote align=”left”]We knew all along the Taser was the cause of death[/blockquote]

“We knew all along the Taser was the cause of death,” said Holly Davidonis, daughter of Mason’s partner, Theresa Davidonis. That was all the family wanted to say Friday.

Theresa Davidonis filed a lawsuit in July against the trooper and the State Police alleging Shaffer used excessive force when he shot Mason in the chest, contrary to the manufacturer’s directions and in violation of state police policy advising against firing a Taser at someone with “cognitive impairment.”

The state police statement Friday noted the “manner of death” that would be listed in the autopsy would be “homicide,” but explained this would be the medical, not the legal, use of the word.

State Police said the New Hampshire Medical Examiner’s Office also reported Mason had other “significant conditions” — including heart disease and Excited Delirium Syndrome.

Mason’s autopsy took place in New Hampshire because he was taken to a hospital in that state and pronounced dead there.

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