Death of Branford man Tasered by police ruled a homicide

BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The State Medical Examiner has ruled the death of a man who police used a stun gun on in Branford last winter is a homicide.

David Werblow, 41, died March 15th after police got a call of a disturbance at 134 Burban Street. They arrived to find Werblow walking down the street and attempting to enter passing vehicles. Officers say he ignored their requests to stop, and that Werblow finally got inside a parked car. That’s when Officer John Ablely first used the Taser on him, getting him out of the car.

As Werblow was being placed in handcuffs, officers saw he was in medical distress. By the time he was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital, he was pronounced dead.

According to the New Haven Register, the State Medical Examiner’s office has now ruled Werblow died of “sudden death following physical altercation, including electronic shock and a restraint during a psychotic episode due to schizophrenia.”

The label “homicide” does not mean a criminal act took place or determine if criminal charges will be filed. 

“When the medical examiner makes decisions like this, it really is a medical decision, not a legal decision,” said Quinnipiac University Law Professor William Dunlap.

“Once the medical decision is made, up to legal side to ask should we look into further criminal intent or criminal behavior,” he said.

State police are continuing their investigation to determine if Officer Abely’s actions were justified.  At the time of the incident, witnesses told News 8 they did not believe police used excessive force.

Connecticut has a new law that took effect in January calling for detailed reports every time a police department uses a stun gun on an individual. Sixteen people have died after being Tasered by police in the state since 2005. The ACLU has pushed for reforms in police use of stun guns.

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