UPDATE: Man falls off overpass after apparent Taser use

Friday, July 25, 2008 | 7:57 p.m. CDT; updated 7:27 p.m. CST, Friday, February 19, 2010

Note to readers: The content in the KMIZ video linked below might be disturbing to some viewers.

COLUMBIA - Police have identified a man who fell from an overpass at Providence Road and Interstate 70 after being shot with a Taser on Friday.

At 5:50 p.m. Friday, the man, 45-year-old Phillip Lee McDuffy of Columbia, was in critical condition at University Hospital.

Columbia Police Capt. Zim Schwartze said McDuffy suffered two broken arms, an orbital fracture and a broken jaw.

A video posted to KMIZ's Web site shows Sgt. Dan Beckman discharging his Taser while the man was speaking to police on the walkway. This shot missed. The man ran a short distance before Officer Sean Dutton shot him with a second Taser discharge. He collapsed to the ledge of the overpass and then rolled off, falling to an embankment.

At about 10:30 a.m., the man climbed onto the outside of protective fencing on the pedestrian walkway and inched back and forth over the interstate. Police verbally negotiated with the man for an hour and a half and convinced him twice to move from the center to the south side of the bridge. The second time, police were prepared to use a Taser to subdue him, Schwartze said.

Before 11 a.m., crowds gathered near the intersection, parking their cars at nearby gas stations to watch the man on the overpass bridge.

During the incident, some spectators began yelling at the man; some people in the MG Auto Repair parking lot urged him to jump.

About 30 minutes before the man fell from the bridge, a woman showed up at the scene and told police that she was the man's daughter.

"Let me get through," she told an officer. "That is my father; I am the daughter." Police did not let the woman through; instead a police negotiator led her to the median and began questioning her.

Schwartze said the department's policy is to not allow people who are threatening suicide to talk to their family because they might use the opportunity to say goodbye before killing themselves.

When the man fell, people began yelling "He jumped! He jumped!" The woman who said she was the man's daughter fell to her knees on the median and began screaming.

Emergency crews placed him in neck and back braces before putting him in a University Hospital ambulance, Columbia Police Officer Mark Brotemarkle said. The man was conscious and breathing.

Schwartze said police originally responded to the area of Worley Street and Banks Avenue because family members said McDuffy might harm himself. Schwartze said police located McDuffy on the overpass within four minutes of responding to the call and had crisis negotiators on the scene within 14 minutes.

Police rerouted traffic on both Providence Road and I-70 "immediately" after locating McDuffy, Schwartze said. All lanes of I-70 and Providence Road are now open.

Schwartze said McDuffy had previous "negative" experiences with Columbia police. According to Missouri Case.Net, numerous orders of protection were filed against McDuffy between 1994 and 2007. In 1986, he pleaded guilty to third-degree assault. In 1997, he was arrested for violating an order of protection and endangering the welfare of a child. In 1998, he was convicted of third-degree assault with physical injury. He pleaded guilty to third-degree assault again in 2000.

Kelli Rogers contributed to this report.


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