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2 officers suspended while man's death is investigated



Published: Sat, July 23, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



A surveillance tape has raised questions about the encounter.

CANTON (AP) -- A short video captured by a Canton Police cruiser shows one officer on top of a naked, bloody man in handcuffs, occasionally hitting him while he struggled; about the same time, another officer kicked the man once.

It was those actions -- and not the use of a Taser on Shawn Pirolozzi, who later died in police custody -- that led to officers William Guthrie and Eric Stanbro's suspensions with pay pending an internal investigation, police Chief Dean McKimm said Friday.

Unusual behavior

Pirolozzi, 30, had been acting strangely the night of June 13 well before police arrived. His girlfriend reported he splashed water around his apartment that afternoon to purify it and ward off demons before jumping out a second-story window later that night and running through traffic, McKimm said.

Police said Pirolozzi went berserk after his girlfriend left around 6 p.m. Photos of the apartment released by police show blood splattered on the walls and ceilings of the trashed house. Just after 10 p.m. police received eight 911 calls reporting a naked, bloody man was jumping on top of passing cars.

Struggle for control

McKimm said Pirolozzi jumped on top of Stanbro and struggled with him inside the cruiser. Pirolozzi repeatedly yelled "I love you" while Stanbro screamed for help, saying Pirolozzi grabbed his gun, according to recordings released by police.

A jolt from Guthrie's Taser gun failed to subdue Pirolozzi, and the struggle continued until Guthrie and a firefighter managed to pull Pirolozzi out of the cruiser by his legs, McKimm said.

The fight continued in the street as officers repeatedly ordered Pirolozzi to stop resisting. The video showing Stanbro and Guthrie struggling with Pirolozzi was captured by an arriving cruiser.

Pirolozzi died shortly after being taken to a nearby hospital. The Stark County Coroner's Office has not ruled on a cause of death. Preliminary tests showed Pirolozzi had no alcohol and trace amounts of marijuana in his system.

The Canton Police Patrolman's Association, the union representing officers, said the officers did nothing wrong in subduing the suspect.

The internal investigation is expected to last three to four weeks, McKimm said. The Stark County prosecutor's office also is reviewing the evidence for possible criminal charges.




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