Hartford Police Cleared in Taser Death

A state's attorney said police officers responsible for the death of a 26-year-old man, who was shocked with a Taser during a disturbance, were in conformance with the department's procedures and policies. 

On Aug. 7, Matthew Russo, 26, resisted when Hartford's Mobile Crisis team, Hartford police and Emergency Medical Services personnel responded to his home at 38 Kelsey Street at 8:30 p.m.

A Hartford police officer deployed a Taser, assigned to the officer, on Russo when he continued to be combative, state police said. After Russo was transported to the hospital, he was having trouble breathing and died, police said. 

The state medical examiner's office said Matthew Russo died from "cardiac arrest during a physical struggle with prone positioning and chest compression." His death was linked to an enlarged heart, the office reported.

According to the Connecticut General Statute, an "electronic defense weapon" is "capable of immobilizing a person temporarily, but is not capable of inflicting death or serious physical injury."

State's attorney Maureen T. Platt of the Waterbury District said the officer in question "subjectively and reasonable" believed that the Taser would not cause death or serious physical injury during the time of the incident.

"It can be determined the Taser employed by (the officer) is an electronic defense weapon under our law," Platt wrote in a statement. 

The Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice said they will not be taking further action against the Hartford officers. 

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