San Jose Man Killed by Meth, Not Tasers: Coroner

"Astronomical level" of powerful stimulant blamed in Richard Lua's death

By Jackson West
|  Friday, Jun 12, 2009  |  Updated 1:00 PM PDT
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San Jose Man Killed by Meth, Not Tasers: Coroner

Steve Lyon

The use of tasers has proven controversial for the SJPD, but the coroner has let them off the hook in this case.

A cardiac arrhythmia that killed Richard Lua after a fight with the San Jose police wasn't caused by tasers, but the massive amount of methamphetamine in Lua's system according to a Santa Clara County Coroner's report.

Lua got into an altercation with SJPD officers, and after reportedly trying to evade officers, was subdued with batons and eventually a taser, or electric stun gun.

After being shocked, Lua went into "medical distress," according to the SJPD.

However, the coroner found levels of methamphetamine in Lua six times the level necessary to induce a psychotic episode in a typical person.

The ruling takes a rather narrow view of when tasers should be specifically cited as contributing to a death.

Doctor Michelle Jordan declared that "if Taser is a contributory factor to death then death has to occur while the pulse is entering the body as Taser is being deployed."

Lua's death has been officially ruled "accidental."

Photo by Steve Lyon.

Jackson West sees in this tragedy that tasers and meth don't mix.

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