RICHMOND, Va. --A Virginia prosecutor said Thursday that he will not pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against three Virginia police officers who used stun guns multiple times on a black man before his death.
An investigation into the 2013 death of 46-year-old Linwood Lambert Jr. found insufficient evidence to prove that the three officers violated federal law by willfully using unreasonable force against the man, U.S. Attorney John Fishwick Jr. said in a statement.
The announcement comes as people protest the treatment of blacks by police in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. Police in those cities are facing backlash after officers fatally shot black men.
Police car dash and hospital surveillance videos released last year show South Boston Police Officers Tiffany Bratton, Clifton Mann and Travis Clay using their stun guns repeatedly on Lambert after they took him into custody for a mental health evaluation on May 4, 2013. South Boston, a community of roughly 8,000, is in southern Virginia near the North Carolina border.
When they arrived at the hospital, Lambert kicked out the police cruiser's window and ran toward the emergency room doors with his hands cuffed behind his back, the videos shows. As he ran away from the officers, they shocked him repeatedly, even after he fell to the ground.
Instead of taking the man to the hospital, the officers took Lambert to jail, telling him he was arrested for disorderly conduct and property damage. They shocked him again when he was put back in the cruiser, restrained in the back seat, the videos show. Lambert was later brought back to the same emergency room and pronounced dead about an hour after he was initially taken into custody.
Lambert told the officers that he used cocaine. The medical examiner's office said his death was caused by "cocaine-induced excited delirium."
The officers have said their use of force was appropriate because Lambert had become violent and was putting their safety at risk. Their attorneys also have rejected claims made by Lambert's family that the man's race was a factor, noting that one of the officers, Bratton, is also black, The South Boston News & Record reported.
Halifax Commonwealth's Attorney Tracy Quackenbush Martin announced in May that no criminal charges will be brought against the officers, saying that there's no evidence to suggest that they knowingly deprived Lambert of medical care or used their stun guns with the intent of torturing or killing the man.
The officers face a $25 million civil lawsuit filed by Lambert's sister, Gwendolyn Smalls. A trial was originally set for early 2017, but he officers' attorneys have asked for it to be pushed back until later in the year.
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