Attorney explores what role Taser had in man's death while in OPD custody

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A man died Thursday evening while in the custody of Oakland police and after being stunned with a Taser gun. His grieving family has contacted a high-profile attorney to discuss their options. 

According to Oakland Police, officers responded to a multi-vehicle crash with reported injuries in the 4100 block of Foothill Blvd. at about 2:21 p.m. 

When officers arrived, a man was identified as being involved in the crash and attempting to flee the scene. He allegedly had tried to board an AC Transit bus.

According to police, the man was being physically resistant while the officers were attempting to arrest him. During the incident officers used a Taser and the man was arrested at the scene. 

Ramon Sanchez, a witness at the scene says the man was fighting with officers. "All of a sudden I heard this big bang." Sanchez said an officer yelled out repeatedly before using her Taser. 

"I'm going tase you!" Sanchez said he heard the officer warn. "'Stop,stop!' He kept yelling. 'Okay I'm sorry! Help me!'"

Police called for paramedics after the man was shocked. 

Later that evening, the man died at the hospital. According to police, although a Taser was involved in the incident, the cause of the man's death has not yet been determined. 

Our cameras were rolling when the man was taken away in an ambulance. Sanchez confirms that the man being taken away by the ambulance was the same man he saw being tased by police. 

"It surprised me that he's dead. He didn't look like he was injured," Sanchez said. 

The identity of the man was not released. But the man's family is grieving and have reached out to Oakland Civil Rights attorney John Burris for advice. They don't know why he died while in police custody. 

The Alameda County Coroner's Bureau will determine the cause of death and will see if it was the Taser alone, or if drugs and/or alcohol use played a role in the man's death. Oakland's Internal Affairs Division are investigating the in-custody death.

Sanchez says there may be another factor. He says the man fell to the ground pretty hard after he was tased. 

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office is also conducting an independent and parallel investigation, police said.

Burris said the man's family contacted him. He would not identify the man who died, but said he was divorced and had a job. 

"Was he part of a car accident?  Was he injured because of the car accident?  At the end of the day, we want to know what effect, if any, did the Taser have on the cause of his death," Burris said.   

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Oakland police's homicide section at (510) 238-3821 or the police tip line at (510) 777-7950.

An earlier version of this story said the person died Thursday afternoon. It has been corrected to say they died Thursday evening.