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No Justice for 62-Year-Old Man, Pepper Sprayed to Death by Florida Police

 
 
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Nick Christie, 62, was arrested near Tampa for public intoxication about two and a half years ago. Concerned about Christie's recent erratic behavior, his wife had asked police to take her drunk husband to the hospital -- where he could take his medication -- rather than haul him off to jail. But Lee County Sheriff's Office police had another idea: They took Christie down to the station where they stripped him naked, covered his face with a spit mask, and paper sprayed him, until he died.

Fox 13 in Tampa reports:

The District 21 Medical Examiner ruled his death was a homicide because he had been restrained and sprayed with pepper sprayed by law enforcement officers. But to this day, nobody has ever been charged with a crime, and the Lee County State Attorney cleared the sheriff's office of any wrong doing.

It's been more than two and a half years and his wife still can't accept what happened.

"I was shocked. This was something out of a horror movie," says Joyce Christie. She said her husband was depressed and was showing signs of erratic behavior a few days before leaving for Florida.

She called authorities and pleaded with them to take her husband to a hospital and be given his medications. Instead, he was taken to jail for disorderly intoxication.

Her lawsuit alleges he was pepper sprayed 10 times over a 48-hour period, at times while in a restraint chair.

And:

Monshay Gibbs was a deputy trainee at the jail at the time. In a video deposition, she testified that she thought the way Nick Christie was treated was excessive.

"He had a spit mask on and was naked," she said on the video while under oath. Gibbs testified that Christie pleaded with guards to take off the spit mask because he couldn't breathe.

He later died at the hospital. His heart failed from the shock of the pepper spray. The Lee County Sheriffs Office declined to comment on our story because of Joyce Christie's wrongful death lawsuit, which is scheduled for trial the middle of next year. 

Kamran Logham, who helped to develop pepper spray, said after the excessive use of the chemical agent on Occupy protesters that pepper spray is only appropriate if a person is physically threatening a cop or another person. A photo obtained by Fox clearly shows Christie was strapped to a  chair. 

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at December 23, 2011, 4:01am