Culpeper man tasered by police dies

Dominick Wise had his run-ins with Culpeper police, but his family never expected he would end up dead.  

"It's broken us to pieces. It's my only brother. It's my mother's only son. He was the first grandchild of the family, so it's really hurt us a lot," said his sister Selena Jackson.

Wise was tasered by officers Sunday night during an altercation and died the next day.  Police aren't saying how many times that he was tasered, only that it was no more than three times. That's within the department's policy. 

Police say a female officer saw him walking in the middle of Belle Avenue, tried to get him off the road, but he ran off.  Backup arrived and got him into a grassy area.  Multiple officers tried to get him under control, but he resisted. 

"He was kicking, swinging flailing about. One of the officers, actually during the encounter one of our officers was kicked I the nose area, broke his nose," said Major Chris Settle, with the Culpeper Police Department.

Wise's sister said he had a heart condition and believes that at least some in the police department were aware of it because of a previous encounter in which he was tasered. There are other ways she says police could have handled this. 

"There were at least minimum three officers that were there. I think they could have subdued him a little more, not even with a taser," said Jackson.

Officers were eventually able to restrain Wise. Police say he did not show any effects of being tasered until after medics showed up. 

"Rescue was checking him out, monitoring his breathing. Then when the EMT was there that's when he went unresponsive," said Maj. Settle.

Police now say they believe Wise was high on PCP.  He had several prior criminal arrests, including a pending drug charge.  A knife was found beneath him after he was restrained, but police say Wise never displayed the weapon.  His family doesn't dispute that he had struggled with drugs but something about his death doesn't add up. 

"I just want the truth to come out," his sister said.

Virginia State Police are now investigating the circumstances around his death and Culpeper police are also conducting an internal investigation. The department would not comment on the status of the officers involved, only to say that they have not returned to work and counseling was being made available to them.  

Once state police finishes its probe, the case will be turned over to the Commonwealth's Attorney to determine if charges should be filed.

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