AG's office clears NYPD in death of Bronx man Tasered by police

Saturday, 02 September 2017, 10:45:13 AM. The state Attorney General’s Office has cleared the NYPD of “criminal culpability” in the death of a Bronx man Tasered by police.

An investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office has cleared the NYPD of “criminal culpability” in the November death of a Bronx man Tasered repeatedly by police.

The probe by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit determined that criminal charges were not warranted because Ariel Galarza had threatened police officers with a glass bottle and ignored orders to drop it.

In its report, Schneiderman’s SIPU unit noted that a police officer “may justifiably use reasonable force in order to protect himself against the imminent use of unlawful force against himself or another person, or to effect an arrest.”

"We send our deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Galarza, whose death was a tragedy," Schneiderman said. "We remain committed to following the facts and providing exhaustive and transparent accounting of all cases we investigate under the executive order."

Galarza’s family expressed disappointment at the findings and vowed to pursue a lawsuit.

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Brooklyn New York Attorney Sanford Rubenstein pictured with the families of the late Ariel Galarza, Erickson Brito, James Owens, and Dwayne Jeune at a protest in Brooklyn.

(Alex Rud/For New York Daily News)

“This has to stop. It has to stop. These killings have to stop," said his sister, Jeanette Galarza, after meeting at the attorney general's office on Thursday.

"We are very disappointed. These situations can be handled in a much more civilized matter," said Jeanette Galarza.

Attorneys Sanford Rubenstein and Scott Rynecki, who represent the family, said they would continue their "quest for justice for the killing or Ariel Galarza" with a civil lawsuit.

"The family of Ariel Galarza is extremely disappointed that the Attorney General — after an extensive investigation — concluded that the actions of the police officer was not criminal,” Rubenstein said. “However the quest for justice for the killing of Ariel Galarza is not over. Next week, a civil action will be filed in the Bronx alleging other things like NYPD protocol violations where Ariel Galarza was Tasered three times, twice after being disabled, dropped a glass bottle was the cause of his wrongful death.”

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Ariel Galarza (pictured) died after police repeatedly Tasered him on Mayflower Ave. near St. Theresa Ave. in Pelham Bay in November.

Galarza, 49, died after Sgt. William Melrose zapped him three times with the Taser, causing cardiac arrest. He was allegedly holding a 12-ounce bottle of hot sauce.

Melrose arrived at the Mayflower Ave. building after a neighbor called 911 when she saw Galarza acting erratic and holding a knife. The neighbor later admitted it was a mistake and apologized.

The report by Schneiderman’s office determined that after Galarza ignored orders to drop the bottle, Melrose delivered a five-second electrical shock with the Taser and then two more five-second shocks after he continued to struggle and resist efforts to put him in handcuffs.

After he was handcuffed, Galarza lost consciousness and his heart stopped. Although EMS personnel were able to restore a heartbeat, Galarza was unable to maintain a normal heart rhythm and he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The report noted that two separate autopsy results determined that Galarza died of cardiac arrest resulting from a combination of a preexisting heart condition, drug intoxication, and obesity, combined with the effects of physical exertion, restraint, and the use of the Taser.

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