Autopsy Results: Tasered Passenger Died Of Heart Attack
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 10, 2006
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA--The Florida man that sheriff's deputies shot with taser stun guns on an airport tarmac last month has died.
Troy Anthony Rigby, 29, died on February 6 at North Broward Medical Center, about an hour after his family agreed with doctors that he had little hope of recovery and took him off of life support.
Chief medical examiner Dr. Joshua Perper said Wednesday that his autopsy found Rigby had suffered a massive heart attack. Aside from "some minor bruises" and marks -- likely from the tasers -- Perper said he saw no signs of significant external trauma.
"The death is apparently due to natural causes," Perper said, adding that he found no reason to rule the death a homicide. He is waiting for final toxicology results before completing his report.
Rigby, who had schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, was found on January 26 lying unconscious on the floor of his cell at an intensive psychiatric unit of a Broward County jail.
Rigby was being held on charges of battery, aggravated battery, trespassing, battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest with violence and criminal mischief over a January 23 incident at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Rigby had boarded Continental Airlines Flight 408 bound for Newark, New Jersey, where family members live and where he said he planned to get treatment for his mental illnesses.
Witnesses later told reporters that, as the plane was delayed near the runway for about 30 minutes, Rigby told fellow passengers he was claustrophobic. Then he suddenly got up and ran toward the front of the plane, yelling "Let me go. Let me go. Let me out of here."
Rigby repeatedly slammed his body against the cockpit door, saying he needed to get out of the plane. At least four passengers and one flight attendant tried to restrain Rigby, who bit the hand of one of the passengers.
Rigby then opened a passenger door and dropped 10 feet from the moving plane to the tarmac. As Rigby headed toward the terminal, sheriff's deputies approached and tried to arrest him. When he resisted, one deputy shot him at least four times with a Taser stun gun before they finally subdued him.
Family members later said he had stopped taking his medications.
Merlene Rigby told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel this week that her brother would be buried Saturday at a cemetery near the family home in Irvington, New Jersey.
Six weeks before Rigby was stunned by Sheriff's tasers, federal air marshals shot and killed Rigoberto Alpizar, another Florida man who had not taken medication for his bipolar disorder, as he ran out of an American Airlines flight sitting at a terminal at Miami International Airport. Alpizar had run off the plane and into the jetway on December 7, but failed to follow the officers' instructions to get down on the floor.
Air marshals later said they suspected Alpizar had explosives in his backpack, which they believed he was reaching for when they shot him.
"Man's death in Broward jail was from natural causes, autopsy says" (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)