Meth use and heart problems, not Tasers, ruled cause of Iowa suspect’s death

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NORTHWOOD, Iowa (AP) — A judge says deputies in northern Iowa did not use excessive force when they repeatedly deployed stun guns against a violent suspect who died after their 2013 confrontation.

U.S. Magistrate Judge C.J. Williams dismissed a lawsuit Sunday filed by Larry and Cheryl Zubrod, the parents of 39-year-old Michael Zubrod of Northwood.

Williams ruled that Worth County deputies were justified in using Tasers because Zubrod actively resisted arrest after using a hammer to severely wound his girlfriend. Williams says Zubrod posed a threat to the woman and the deputies until he was handcuffed.

Williams says there’s no evidence that deputies stunned Zubrod after he was cuffed, or that they were aware Zubrod was high and mentally ill. He says the jolts were at most a contributing factor in Zubrod’s death, which an autopsy said was caused by a heart condition and methamphetamine abuse.

Williams says it’s “the type of case where courts cannot use 20/20 hindsight to second-guess law enforcement officers’ split-second decision-making.”