Man Dies After Tuscaloosa Police Tase Him, Investigation Underway
A man who allegedly ran naked through Tuscaloosa's West End early Saturday morning died after police officers trying to arrest him shot him with a Taser, according to a press release from the Tuscaloosa Police Department.
Stephanie Taylor, the department's public information officer, said the trouble started when the suspect, 31-year-old Kendrell Antron Watkins, allegedly went into a rage and began tearing up a relative's house on Cherrystone Circle.
The family, scared for the four children who were inside, were able to get Watkins out of the house, lock the door and call the police, but by the time officers arrived, he had already left the scene.
An hour later, a woman walked into TPD's West Precinct on Culver Road to report that a half-naked man was in the parking lot of Bar 17 scaring people.
Bar 17, a club off of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, burned down last May and was never rebuilt.
Officers responded and found Watkins there, Taylor said. At first they asked him to leave the scene, but then connected the dots and told him they needed to talk about what happened at the house on Cherrystone Circle earlier that night.
Watkins allegedly took off running, removed all of his clothes and led the officers on a short chase during which he reportedly jumped into a fountain and ran through traffic.
A Tuscaloosa Police officer fired his Taser and hit Watkins one time. Taylor said officers struggled with Watkins on the ground for less than a minute before he was handcuffed and taken into custody.
Paramedics treated Watkins on the scene, then took him via ambulance to DCH Northport. Taylor said while Watkins was in the ambulance, he told medics that he had smoked synthetic marijuana Friday night.
Taylor said Watkins was conscious when he arrived at the hospital, but died around 90 minutes later, just before 3 a.m. Saturday.
The exact cause of death is still unclear, but a full autopsy and toxicology report has been ordered.
Taylor said that per TPD policy, two officers involved in the arrest turned deadly have been placed on administrative leave while investigators from outside the police department review the case.
Body camera footage and other video evidence have been preserved and the department is fully cooperating with the outside investigation, Taylor said.
This is the first officer-involved death of a suspect in Tuscaloosa County since 25-year-old Joshua Crawford died after being Tased in Northport in 2017.
More details about this case and body camera footage are expected to be released at a press conference later this weekend.