COLUMBIA — The death of a man who was pulled over and stunned with a Taser by Moberly police was ruled a homicide on Thursday by the Randolph County Coroner’s Office.
The specific cause of 23-year-old Stanley James William Harlan’s death will likely not be released until next week, after Randolph County Coroner Gerald Luntsford has the opportunity to meet with the prosecuting attorney’s office and review the results of the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s investigation, Luntsford said.
“He did not die of natural causes," Luntsford said. "He did not die of anything wrong with him. That means he died at the hands of another.” Luntsford would not say if a Taser was the direct cause of death.
Harlan was pulled over by Moberly officers in the early morning of Aug. 28 for driving erratically. Officers then attempted to arrest him on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Autopsy results later confirmed that Harlan’s blood alcohol level was over the legal limit, Luntsford said.
When police tried to handcuff Harlan initially, he began to resist, and an officer shocked him with a Taser and forced him to the ground to get him to follow instructions, a news release from the Moberly Police Department stated at the time.
Harlan began to comply, but did not remove his arms from under his body so officers could finish handcuffing him, the release stated. A Taser was deployed again, at which point Harlan allowed officers to handcuff him.
Harlan stopped breathing shortly after, and he was pronounced dead at about 2 a.m. at Moberly Regional Medical Center.
Although Luntsford will know more after meeting with other agencies next week, he said it is possible that he may have to convene a coroner’s jury to determine fault in the death.
“I don’t think I could make a ruling at this point of who at the scene is responsible,” he said. If convened, the six-person jury would hear evidence in the case and decide who is at fault.
Cmdr. Kevin Palmatory of the Moberly Police Department and Sgt. Jason Clark of the Highway Patrol said they could not comment because of the ongoing investigation and pending litigation. Clark, whose office is conducting the investigation into the death, said he would not make any statements until he meets with other agencies, including the prosecuting attorney’s office.
Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Fusselman did not return multiple attempts for comment.