DA: 4 Redwood City officers not charged in death of man shocked by Taser stun gun

Taser generic

No charges will be filed against four Redwood City police officers in the case in August of a man who attacked an officer and died after a struggle in which he was shocked by a Taser stun gun, the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office announced today.

Ramzi Saad, 55, died of cardiac arrest after what started as a call on the evening of Aug. 13 about a disturbance between him and his 83-year-old mother in the 500 block of Lanyard Drive in Redwood City, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe wrote in a six-page letter to Redwood City police Chief Dan Mulholland.

The use of Tasers by law enforcement in San Mateo County has come under increased scrutiny following the Oct. 3 death of Chinedu Valentine Okobi by sheriff's deputies in Millbrae. Okobi's family and civil rights attorney John Burris have called for a moratorium on the use of Tasers in the county.

In the case of Saad, Wagstaffe determined the officers used justified force on him. The letter described Saad as having a history of mental illness, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and he was 6 
feet 1 inch, weighed 273 pounds and had diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Saad's mother later told police that he was "acting strange" that day and she noticed he hadn't taken his medication despite her urgings, prosecutors said.

At about 7 p.m., he grabbed his prescription bottles and walked out of the house and into a neighbor's home, where he said "My mother is dead and they're killing us," the letter states.

The neighbor, knowing of Saad's mental health problems, tried to calm him down and walked him back to his residence. Eventually the neighbor left but Saad followed him and the neighbor, once again, escorted him back to his home, where his mother was in the front yard, prosecutors said.

Saad remained agitated and shouted incoherently, then pushed his mother, causing her to fall to the ground and hit her head and prompting the neighbor to call 911, according to the letter.

Officer Oscar Poveda was the first to arrive at the scene and, having received crisis intervention training in 2016, got Saad to calm down and eventually say he wanted to go to the hospital, prosecutors said.

However, he had a sudden change of demeanor and accused Poveda of wanting to shoot him. Saad then rose up and punched the officer, who backed away but apparently suffered a laceration to his nose from the punch, prosecutors said.

Poveda used his Taser on Saad, with the probes causing him to fall to the ground on his stomach. The officer ordered him to put his hands behind his back but Saad refused, and Poveda then activated the Taser again via the probes already deployed. After that, Saad grabbed a piece of fruit from a nearby tree and threw it at the officer, prosecutors said.

Poveda then loaded a second cartridge into his Taser and used it again as Saad continued to resist, but prosecutors said it's unclear if the probes struck Saad since the autopsy report only found two puncture areas on his torso.​​​​​​​

Saad then picked up a brick and the officer tried to activate the probes again but was shocked by the Taser himself and dropped it to the ground. He tried to pick up the Taser but was then shocked a second time, prosecutors said.

Poveda then tried to physically subdue Saad and the district attorney's report said the officer was "stunned at the strength" of Saad.

The officer finally got Saad handcuffed as Officers Daniel Di Bona, Brian Simmons and Matthew Cydzik arrived. Poveda walked away from the struggle as the other three tried to subdue Saad, who continued to kick his legs.

Cydzik put his knee between Saad's shoulder blades, while Simmons focused on his mid-body and Cydzik on his legs. Saad seemed to stop fighting and the officers confirmed he was still breathing, but moments later they saw he had become non-responsive.

Paramedics, who had already been summoned to treat Saad's mother, tried to revive him but were unable to. An autopsy concluded Saad died "as a result of cardiac arrest occurring during physical exertion, physical restraint and tasering," the letter states.

Wagstaffe wrote, "This unfortunate result was not intended by the officers, nor could they have foreseen such a tragic outcome from the use of non-lethal force. Their conduct was reasonable and justifiable based on the decedent's violent conduct."