Oxford police Chief Bill Partridge said officers responded to a call at Presley Auto Sales on U.S. 78 east of Alabama 21 around 9 a.m. Tuesday where a man had damaged several cars and was yelling at employees.
Officers arriving at the scene found the man in a red Dodge Charger, swearing loudly and gripping the steering wheel.
“He was irate, sweaty, and his speech was all incoherent,” Partridge said. “His hands were bloody and his pants were down.”
Partridge said an employee at the lot told police the man had beat his fists against the windshield of the car to get in the vehicle. He had attempted to get into a Ford Mustang before he smashed the windshield of the Charger, police said. Both vehicles had blood stains.
When officers ordered the man out of the car, he refused, police said. An officer attempted to grab the man by the arm, and then the man jumped into the passenger seat, ripping off the vehicle’s gear shift in the process, Partridge said.
After getting out of the car, the man dropped the gear shift and ran after an officer, who used his stun gun on the man. After handcuffing the man, officers noticed he appeared to be shorts of breath, and took him to Regional Medical Center. He was pronounced dead at 9:45 a.m., Partridge said.
As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, the man still had not been identified, Partridge said. Officers were unable to find any identification on the man or in the vehicle he drove to the lot. The Oxford Police Department is now working with investigators at the Jasper County, Ga., Sheriff’s Office where the vehicle’s tag was registered, in hopes of learning the man’s identity.
“We still don’t know who this man is,” Partridge said. “We don’t know why he was acting this way, or why he went to that car lot. There are still a lot of unanswered questions.”
Partridge said he believes the man might have been suffering from excited delirium syndrome, a medical condition consisting of a mixture of delirium, agitation and anxiety which can result in violent and bizarre behavior and cause sudden death. The condition is usually related to drug use, Partridge said. Partridge said he’s studied the condition through stun gun training, but has never witnessed the condition first-hand.
The body was sent to the coroner’s office, and an autopsy will take place in Huntsville, Partridge said.
Partridge said he could not release the name of the officer who fired the stun gun until after an investigation into the incident, but said he believes the officer acted appropriately in the situation.
“It’s a very unfortunate thing that this man died, but our officer safety and public safety comes first,” Partridge said. “Sometimes we’re put into situations where we have to do things we don’t want to do.”
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.