GBI takes over officer-involved death case - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

GBI takes over officer-involved death case

Rudolph Byrd, Jr. of Quincy, Florida Rudolph Byrd, Jr. of Quincy, Florida

By Christian Jennings - bio | email

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - A Florida man died early Friday morning after Thomas County deputies tased him at least two times.

 The man was in his truck parked in the middle of Highway 19 with the lights and engine off. When deputies went up to him, they say he started fighting them.

Rudolph Byrd, Jr. of Quincy, Florida died this morning around 2AM after battling five Thomas County sheriff's deputies, and their taser guns.

Investigators say a deputy saw Rudolph Byrd Jr's truck .

When deputies approached his truck parked in the middle of US 19, they found Byrd inside, bleeding and incoherent. Byrd had two cuts on his wrists.

Deputies called an ambulance, and say they approached him and tried talking with Byrd to see if he was alright.

"At that point the guy became violent, and attacked the officers," said Capt. John Richards of the Thomas Co. Sheriff's Office. 

 That's when deputies drew their tasers. Byrd was tased at least two times. When an ambulance arrived, he stopped breathing on the stretcher.  Workers were able to revive him, but he died at the hospital.

"Officers put themselves in a life threatening situation and an unfortunate situation as this was last night. And we use whatever force is necessary to overcome the situation," said Richards.

The investigation is now in the hands of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. They say Byrd checked into the Western Motel hours before he died, which is right down the road from where officers found him inside his truck. But why he was there and what he was doing is still a mystery.

"At this point they are looking into it. There's a lot of questions that need to be answered. Why was he here, why in the middle of the road, why was he bleeding," said Richards.

 When investigators searched Byrd's vehicle they found cocaine inside. Byrd's body was sent to the GBI Crime lab in Atlanta to find out the cause of death. Right now they don't know whether drugs, the cuts on his wrists, or electric shock may to blame.

The dash cameras in the deputies vehicles were not facing the direction of the fight, so they tell us they don't have any video of the incident.

But the GBI is listening to the audio from the tapes as they investigate.

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