Schenectady County

Man dies in Colonie gym altercation

A Troy man who struggled with officers at a Colonie gym and was shocked by officers multiple times w
Gold’s Gym in Colonie on Monday, October 31, 2011 where an out-of-control man died after being tasered by police early Monday morning.
Gold’s Gym in Colonie on Monday, October 31, 2011 where an out-of-control man died after being tasered by police early Monday morning.

A Troy man who struggled with officers at a Colonie gym and was shocked by officers multiple times with Tasers during the struggle died soon afterward, police said Monday.

The man, identified as 32-year-old Chad L. Brothers, was at Gold’s Gym on Troy-Schenectady Road in Latham early Monday when he assaulted another patron and overturned several pieces of heavy gym equipment, police said.

When the first Colonie police officer arrived, Brothers refused her commands and continued throwing items, police said.

He was ultimately stunned by three officers using their Taser devices, police said. At one point, he lifted one officer off the ground.

When Brothers was finally in handcuffs, officers realized he wasn’t breathing. They started CPR and called for paramedics. Brothers was pronounced dead of cardiac arrest soon afterward at Albany Medical Center, police said.

An autopsy was scheduled for this morning. Toxicology tests were not expected back for several weeks.

At a news conference Monday afternoon, Colonie Police Chief Steven Heider said he hoped the autopsy would shed light on how Brothers died.

He said authorities couldn’t directly link the use of the stun guns with Brothers’ death. He noted there are other conditions that could have begun prior to being shocked that resulted in his death, including one called “excited delirium.”

An investigation is continuing, but Heider said he believes officers were right to use the devices.

“We definitely feel that they were justified,” Heider said. “They did their best to verbally try to handle the situation. Obviously, he kept the escalation increasing.”

Police gave the following account of the incident:

Brothers arrived at the gym at about 5:45 a.m. Soon, he was exercising, making exaggerated noises.

Then, while working on an elliptical machine on the gym’s second floor, he either jumped off or fell off. He then began harassing other patrons.

He was described as acting irrational around a female patron. He then walked up to a male patron on a treadmill and intentionally upped the machine’s speed. He then punched the patron in the face.

The tirade continued, with Brothers leaving the building twice and returning. He knocked over several heavy universal weight machines and threw around 45 pound weights.

Brothers was described as about 6 feet 1 inch tall, weighing about 225 pounds and “very muscular.”

Surveillance cameras recorded Brothers turning over the weight machines, Heider said. There were no cameras on the second floor or in the business’ office, where Brothers was shocked.

According to the police account:

Two calls went into Colonie dispatchers at 6:18 a.m., one from a female employee, the other from a female patron. About 25 to 30 people were in the gym at the time.

The first officer arrived at 6:21 a.m., finding Brothers in the gym’s office still throwing items.

That officer gave Brothers commands to show his hands. He responded by throwing more items, including at the officer.

She then deployed her Taser, one probe hitting his chest, the other his thigh. He dropped to the floor and appeared to comply. The officer then tried to handcuff him using two sets of handcuffs. Brothers was too big for one.

She also told Brothers he wouldn’t get shocked again if he complied.

Brothers then began to get up, with the officer on top of him. The weapon also came out of the officer’s hand and went into Brothers’. He then appeared to activate it himself, the probes still attached to him.

Heider declined to give the officer’s relative weight. But, he said, “she should not have been thrown around like she was. This was a man displaying extreme, extreme strength.”

Two other officers then arrived and used their own Tasers, taking the probes off and applying the stun gun directly to Brothers’ arm and another part.

“This was a whirlwind of a battle within a confined area,” Heider said. A couple of patrons also helped.

After finally handcuffing Brothers, officers soon realized he wasn’t breathing and called paramedics.

The backup officers arrived at 6:22 a.m. The first request for paramedics came in at 6:28 a.m.

Paramedics arrived at 6:34 a.m., and left for Albany Medical Center at 7 a.m. Brothers was pronounced dead shortly after his 7:14 a.m. arrival at the hospital.

Two officers suffered minor injuries. The initial officer was shaken up, Heider said. The names of the officers involved were not released.

The department’s officers have had Tasers for about eight years, Heider said. In that time, the weapons have been used a total of 141 times out of 20,000 arrests.

Brothers’ death comes less than two weeks after the New York Civil Liberties Union released a report on electroshock weapon use in the region, concluding they were being consistently misused, with as many as 60 percent of the studied incidents not meeting the threshold.

Four departments were included in the study, but Colonie was not one of them. The departments were chosen to represent a cross section of department sizes, officials said.

Melanie Trimble, executive director of the Capital Region chapter, said her organization will monitor the Colonie investigation. She noted the level of combativeness Brothers was accused of reaching.

Trimble said the group is withholding judgment on whether the weapons were used properly until it finds out more.

An official with the gym issued a statement Monday extending condolences to Brothers’ family and said the gym was cooperating fully in the investigation.

“We are committed to member safety,” the statement reads, “and providing a safe environment for our patrons; staff and other members are to be commended for their help during this difficult time.”

The gym was back to normal operation Monday.

Categories: Schenectady County

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