Family: Tasered man on life support

BROOKSVILLE — The family of a man arrested after a violent encounter with the Brooksville Police Department on Saturday said he is in the intensive care unit at a local hospital and is not expected to live.

A witness said he saw officers handcuff and use a Taser on Phillip Glen Napier, 38, who had locked himself inside a shed at his grandmother’s residence at 7110 Daffodil Drive in the Southway Villa III 55-and-older community.

Witness James Fretwell said he saw the encounter, which started just before 9 p.m. Saturday, and tried to persuade Napier to stop struggling with the officers.

“I wanted the police to know I was there, and I called to (Napier): ‘Calm down, sir. You will not win. Quit resisting the officers,’ ” Fretwell said.

Brooksville Police Chief George Turner defended his officers’ actions and said the department continues to investigate the incident. Turner said Napier’s grandmother called police because she thought he was on drugs, and she didn’t want him at her home.

“She said he gets violent when he’s on drugs,” Turner said. “My guys did not go there to hurt him. It turned into a criminal matter when he started biting and fighting and screaming. By our policy, and the nature of our business, we used the right amount of force to affect an arrest while endangering as few people as possible.”

Turner said Napier was uncooperative when officers arrived, at first refusing to leave the shed, then engaging officers in a violent altercation, at one point attempting to wrestle away an officer’s Taser. A police report said the stun gun had no effect on Napier.

“He showed all the signs of being on narcotics,” Turner said. “He said people were trying to kill him. He was paranoid, delusional and very uncontrollable. He fit the bill for a Baker Act call, for an involuntary psychiatric observation. We obviously didn’t feel comfortable leaving him there.”

Turner said one of his officers was repeatedly kicked in the chest and groin before Napier could be subdued. Turner said an officer removed a knife from Napier and officers later found two more that have been taken as evidence.

Fretwell said he heard a scream around 9 p.m. Saturday and went across the street to investigate.

Fretwell said he saw Napier handcuffed and on the ground, with his hands behind his back. He said an officer had one arm around Napier’s chest and another across his throat. At that time, the other officer had an arm around Napier’s ankles, while Tasering him, Fretwell said.

Turner contradicted Fretwell, saying Napier could not be handcuffed until back-up units arrived. He said Napier calmed down after being handcuffed, then started having trouble breathing.

Turner said officers administered CPR until Brooksville Fire Rescue workers arrived.

Napier’s father, Phillip Napier, said Thursday that his son was on life support and breathing with the help of a machine. He said he saw officers “beating the hell out of him in the chest and face.”

“He was already out of it,” Phillip Napier said. “It was like slinging a piece of meat against the wall.”

Phillip Napier, who lives with his mother, said he did not expect his son to survive. His mother was too distraught to speak.

“It’s going to tear me apart” if he dies, said Phillip Napier. “I lost my wife four or five years ago to cancer.”

Turner said the family will not share Napier’s condition with investigators.

“We hope this man survives, and when he’s released (from the hospital), we’ll arrest him for violently resisting officers and trying to grab the Taser away,” Turner said.

He characterized it as a case where “the drug abuser did not want to cooperate.”

gfox@tampatrib.com

(352) 544-5283

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