Nearly a year after the death of a 61-year-old man who was tased five times in less than a minute by a National City police officer, the department has released officer-worn camera footage of the incident.
The San Diego County District Attorney's office confirms it has been investigating the death.
Family members for the father of three are calling on National City to take action to prevent anything similar from happening again.
NBC 7 Investigates obtained police body cam footage of the Sept. 29, 2019 incident that took place in the early morning hours on East 8th Street in National City.
Warning: The following video contains graphic imagery and language.
Police were called to the scene by several residents who saw Tony Wilson banging on the front door of a home. The callers, according to police reports obtained by NBC 7, told police that Wilson appeared distraught and was acting erratically.
“He is breaking everything in front of the door,” said one 911 caller. When asked if Wilson had any weapons, the caller said, “No, it doesn’t look like it. He’s definitely on something.”
Upon their arrival, police officer Jonathon Taylor approached Wilson with his gun drawn. Wilson, according to the footage as well as police reports taken, raised his hands immediately and pleaded to the officers repeatedly, “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” while getting down on his hands and knees.
However, according to officer accounts of the altercation, although Wilson obeyed commands to get on his hands and knees, he refused immediate commands to place his hands behind his back.
In response, Taylor discharged his Taser. The first discharge of Taylor’s Taser came only moments after Wilson was on his hands and knees.
When the Taser appeared to not have an effect on Wilson, Taylor discharged it four additional times to Wilson’s shoulder, lower body, and arms.
Minutes later, officers noted Wilson was unresponsive, the reports say. They performed CPR, and Wilson was transported to a hospital where he was placed on life support and died 16 days later.
A department-required report on Taylor’s Taser, obtained by NBC 7, shows Taylor pushed the trigger on his department-issued Taser on five occasions at 12:08 am on Sept. 29, followed by another discharge five seconds later, and another 13 seconds later, followed by a fourth 5 seconds after, and the last Taser “event” occurred 15 seconds after that.
However, the officer's account of Wilson’s death differs slightly from that of the medical examiner, who conducted an autopsy on Wilson’s body. In their report, and upon reviewing footage from police body cameras, the medical examiner found that “a conducted electrical weapon was used on him several times while being subdued and handcuffed.”
Conversely, the police investigation into Wilson’s death reported that Wilson was not handcuffed before Taylor discharged his Taser.
In a statement, a representative for the district attorney’s office told NBC 7 that as is the case with all in-custody deaths involving use of force, “this is one that's currently under review.”
Late on Thursday, the National City Police Department said it could not comment further on the case because it's under investigation. A spokesperson did say that the medical examiner’s office determined the cause of death to be accidental and that Wilson had methamphetamine in his system.
The department would not confirm whether Taylor is currently employed.
Meanwhile, Wilson’s family is seeking answers and is preparing to file a lawsuit against National City and the officers involved in Wilson’s death.
“Nobody deserves to die that way,” said one family member who wished to remain anonymous. “He was a caring person. He loved life. He loved the outdoors.”
The family member told NBC 7 Investigates that a detective had called the family after Wilson was taken to the hospital. The family member said they were told differing versions of the altercation. It wasn’t until the district attorney’s office called that they found out that an officer had used his Taser on Wilson five times.
“I wouldn’t think that if somebody is complying, if they are not resisting, they shouldn’t have to do that,” said the family member during a July 22 interview.
“I promised him before I left the hospital I was going to look into what happened,” the family member said. “If somebody did something to cause him to die, then I want them to be held accountable. I don’t think that’s asking for much, considering a life is gone.”
Added the family member, “I think that I am never going to talk to him. I am never going to see him again, and it's so sad. He really, really loved his children. If somebody is complying, then why are you going to do that? How is it going to help the situation? The system is broken, and it needs to be fixed, and we need to fix it today, not tomorrow, because lives are going to continue to be taken.”