Undercover officers use Taser on pallbearer
Posted: Today at 9:53 a.m.
Updated: Today at 1:35 p.m.
WILMINGTON, N.C. — ANorth Carolina sheriff's official has apologized for plunging a funeralinto chaos when undercover agents tried to arrest the dead man's son -and used a Taser on him in the process.
The incident happened as the coffin was being loaded into a hearse.The officers planned to quietly arrest Gladwyn Taft Russ III, who wasserving as a pallbearer, The Star-News of Wilmington reported Wednesday.
Relatives said two deputies dressed in coats and ties grabbed Russand kneed him in his back before using the Taser on him. One deputy'sgun fell out of its holster.
Russ' sister, Taffy Gause, said when she got out of the car a deputy"was waving a gun at me and my mom and yelling to get back or he wasgoing to shoot." She said some mourners went home instead of going tothe cemetery.
Russ, 42, had failed to turn himself in as promised after beingcharged with threatening his ex-wife who lives in another state,officials said.
Officers tried to serve the warrant Nov. 8, but Russ barricadedhimself in a house. Officers agreed to let him surrender after his70-year-old father had surgery, but the elder Russ died Nov. 11 and hisson called to say he would surrender after the funeral.
When deputies approached Russ during the Saturday funeral, he "wentwild" and spat on the officers, said New Hanover County sheriff's chiefdeputy Ed McMahon.
McMahon said the officers should have waited until after the cemetery service.
"It was never my intention to create any more problems for the family, and I am truly sorry and apologize for that," he said.
McMahon said the officers pointed Tasers at people because the crowd was moving toward them.
Russ was charged with assault on a government official, resisting anofficer, disorderly conduct and felony malicious conduct by a prisoner.
"Everybody was so scared. We thought it was a drug deal gone bad,"said Ronnie Simmons, a pallbearer and Russ' brother-in-law. "We almostdropped the casket."