Sheriff’s Dept. cleared in man’s death

HIGHLANDS—An autopsy performed on a Highlands man who died three days after being shocked by a taser, shows the device did not cause the man’s death.
The report written by Harris County Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Marissa Feeney, obtained by the “Star-Courier” last week concludes that Kenneth Eagleton, 43, died on June 21, 2006 of “ complications of rhabdomylosis with acute renal (kidney) failure due to acute cocaine intoxication.”

A toxicology report indicated a positive result for cocaine in the urine and the chemical benzoylecgonine in the urine and blood. Benzoylecgonine, is a metabolite that is formed when cocaine reacts with water in the liver.
On June 18 medics from the Highlands Volunteer Fire Department called for deputy backup for Eagleton while making a medical emergency call in the 2200 block of North Main.
Sheriff’s Department Spokesman Lt. John Martin said that when deputies arrived they found Eagleton in a car parked on the side of the road lying across the front seat, with his head in the back toward the passenger side and his feet were tangled in the steering wheel. Lt. Martin said he appeared to be in emotional distress and that he was yelling at no one in particular.
When deputies approached they saw Eagleton holding a large knife with both hands.
“At that point,” Martin said. “The deputies tried to talk him down and get him to release the weapon.” Unable to restrain the 6’ tall, 300-pound man with handcuffs, Martin said one of the deputies fired a single shot with his Taser.
Designed to deploy for a five-second cycle, Martin said one jolt is usually enough to subdue a person. However, after the five-seconds Eagleton continued to flail at the officers. A second dart was fired into Eagleton. The second jolt slowed Eagleton enough for officers to restrain him with handcuffs.
Despite the two shots, Martin said that Eagleton remained conscious and continued to struggle even as he was loaded into an ambulance.
When Eagleton arrived at San Jacinto Methodist Hospital E.R. at 1:30 p.m. he had a 108-degree body temperature. The hospital also reported that Eagleton was having seizures and that his heart rate was in excess of 100 beats per minute.
Martin said that at no time did officers deploy chemical deterrents or use impact weapons and that the use of the Taser would not account for the elevated body temperature.
In her report, Feeney found two taser puncture wounds, on the right upper chest and stomach, and bruises on the upper right chest below the collarbone and on the lower extremities, which were attributed to the altercation with the deputies.