PARKTON — Two sheriff’s deputies remain on administrative leave pending an investigation into the death of a Parkton man who died after being stunned twice with a Taser on Friday, according to Robeson County Sheriff Kenneth Sealey.
The death of George McKeachen, who was better known around the small town as “Scooby,” is under investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation, Sealey said. It is a matter of routine for an officer to be placed on administrative leave when their is a death investigation.
The deputies were identified this morning by Sealey as Josh Thames and Shane Bouchard.
“According to the medical examiner’s preliminary report, the cause of death is unknown pending the toxicology report,” Sealey said.
Sealey said the toxicology report could take six to eight weeks to be completed.
McKeachen died Friday morning at Southeastern Regional Medical Center. He was taken there after Thames and Bouchard tried to subdue him near the 301 Kwik Shop at 23011 U.S. 301 at 7:23 a.m. that day.
Thames and Bouchard had responded to a call about McKeachen’s disorderly conduct and found him near the store, Sealey said in a statement. They used a Taser to subdue McKeachen after he began assaulting officers and tried to take a patrol car, but it seemed to have no effect, Sealey said.
McKeachen began assaulting the deputies again, was stunned a second time, and then tried to take another patrol vehicle, Sealey said. McKeachen then lost consciousness.
Deputies performed CPR on McKeachen, who was wearing several layers of clothing, Sealey said. He was taken by ambulance to the medical center, where he later died.
He said the Sheriff’s Office does not use the Taser frequently.
“First time we’ve had any problems, that we’ve had to use it,” he said. “It’s been used before, and nothing has ever happened.”
Surveillance video shows McKeachen striking a man in the parking lot on the head with a large object before entering the store, knocking items off of the shelves and assaulting two customers.
A woman who was in the store at the time, who did not want to be identified, said that a customer who McKeachen assaulted called an ambulance from the store, but later drove herself to the hospital.
“Some people liked him, and some didn’t like him,” she said. “A lot of people are asking about what happened. They seem concerned because they knew him.”
McKeachen had been banned in March from a nearby Shell service station at 97 South Fayetteville Road for panhandling and harassing customers, according to a store clerk at that business. He was often seen outside of the store, where he would ask people for money.
He “probably asked St. Peter for $5 bucks,” said Jack Hughes in a post on Facebook. “At one time, he had a good heart. Turned into a plum crazy dude, though.”
McKeachen lived at Green Manor Rest Home at 1165 West Parkton Tobermory Road. The administrator of the facility has declined to comment on the incident.
There have been at least three other deaths involving stun guns in North Carolina during the past four years.
— Seventeen-year-old Darryl Turner, of Charlotte, died in March 2008 after he was shocked by a police officer. A federal jury found the gun manufacturer at fault and awarded Turner’s family $4.3 million.
— Michael Evans, 56, died last August after he was hit with a stun gun by Fayetteville police. Three officers were cleared of any wrongdoing.
— Last November, 61-year-old Roger Anthony of Halifax County died after he was shocked. A former police officer is facing the charge of involuntary manslaughter.
According to Amnesty International, at least 500 people in the United States have died since 2001 after being shocked with Tasers either during their arrest or while in jail.