A Washington man is dead after police tasered him four times and beat him with their fists and a flashlight, according to eyewitnesses.
Neighbors report that what happened between 44-year-old Ron Hillstrom and University Place police was essentially murder.
“You beat this man to death last night for no reason and we caught you, period,” said one of Hillstrom’s neighbors, who saw the incident.
Police were called to the parking lot of Hillstrom’s apartment complex in the early morning hours. Hillstrom was having some sort of psychotic episode: He was pacing in a circle and muttering that people were after him. He was unarmed, but carrying a screwdriver.
A representative for the police department said that Hillstrom’s actions necessitated police force. He fought with officers and tried to bite them, according to Sheriff Ed Troyer’s statement to komonews.com.
That’s not how the neighbors described it.
“No, he did not charge the police, he was just doing what he was doing before the police came,” said a different eyewitness.
Not in dispute: The fact that officers tasered Hillstrom four times.
Eyewitnesses also reported that police pinned the man, possibly restricting his ability to breathe. Video footage appears to show the officers beating Hillstrom as well. Several witnesses said they struck him multiple times with a flashlight.
“They just weren’t done until he was dead,” said another eyewitness.
Hillstrom succumbed to his injuries. The precise cause of death has not yet been determined.
The officers involved have been place on administrative leave pending an investigation.