On November 16, 2009, police were dispatched to an East Grand Rapids, Michigan residence following a 911 call in which the dialer said a man broke through a glass window.
Stephen Bolick called the police following a scuffle with his 30-year-old son. According to Bolick his son, Matthew Bolick, “just freaked out completely.”
East Grand Rapids Public Safety Sgt. Brian Davis was first on the scene. Stephen told the officer that his son was delusional and hearing voices. He feared, he said, for his son’s safety.
When the officer made contact with Matthew, the 30 year old assaulted the officer, which led to him responding with his Taser. According to the officers, the first Taser blast had no effect on Bolick and that’s when he made a run for his home.
Officers gained on the deranged Bolick and a second effort to subdue Bolick ensued.
In a span of 10 minutes, Bolick was tasered a total of 19 times by the second officer on the scene, Gary Parker. In the end, Stephen Bolick was dead.
According to some reports, this was the first instance where the Police Department used their Tasers.
On Tuesday, Matthew’s family filed a lawsuit against the city of East Grand Rapids, Sgt. Brian Davis, Officer Gary Parker and Mark Herald, public safety director. The lawsuit says the police used excessive force and neglected to act in an appropriate manner. It also states that the officers violated Matthew Bolick’s constitutional protections by not being trained to deal with people with psychotic episodes.
An autopsy that was conducted shortly after the younger Bolick’s death showed that his passing was a product of a rare episode of excited delirium syndrome. The autopsy also revealed there was no proof the death was caused by the Taser jolts and no illegal substances were found in his blood.
The two officers involved in the incident were acquitted of any criminal charges.
“To suggest we’re responsible for the death, it’s outrageous, quite frankly,” John Gillooly, city attorney, told The Grand Rapids Press.
The family still disputes that the police used excessive force.
In a video that has surfaced, Officer Parker is heard saying, “I will tase you in a heartbeat. You run, I will shoot you. Hit me one more time. Hit me one more time.”
According to the family’s attorney, William Mills, Bolick’s psychological and physical strain along with Bolick’s cerebral problems caused him to go into cardiac arrest.
According to some news reports, Matthew’s family claims he had been acting strange a few weeks prior to the incident.
"It’s an unusual case…it’s a relatively rare cause for sudden death,” Dr. David Start, the Kent Country Medical Examiner’s office, confirmed to the news media about Bolick’s acute exhaustive mania.