ONEIDA, NY - An Oneida County man is dead after police say he was uncooperative with officers following an accident early Monday morning, and he was then tased. Shortly after that he had trouble breathing, and subsequently died.
Oneida City Police Chief Paul Thompson led a press conference inside the New York State Police Troop D barracks on Route 5 in Oneida Monday afternoon to announce the death of 41-year-old John C. Havener Jr. of Vernon Center.
Officials say the whole incident unfolded on Route 5, right outside the New York State Police Troop D barracks.
Thompson says Oneida police were dispatched to a call around 4:30 a.m. Monday for the report of a man flagging down traffic along Route 5. He says when officers arrived they located Havener, who was flagging down traffic, and they say he was uncooperative with police and fought with the responding police officers.
Thompson says Havener was then tasered twice. At some point after being tasered, Havener started having breathing problems, according to Thompson. An ambulance was then called and he was taken to Oneida Healthcare, where he was pronounced dead.
Police say Havener was unarmed.
Canastota police also responded to the scene as well as the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and state police, but Thompson would not elaborate on which officers actually fired their tasers.
An investigation into the incident is currently underway and it’s being conducted by the New York State Police along with the New York State Attorney General‘s office. The Attorney General’s office in New York State is called in to investigate whenever there is a death involving someone who was not armed.
Thompson says a vehicle was spotted not far from where Havener was flagging down traffic that had crashed into a snowbank, but he would not say whether anyone else was in that vehicle.
When asked whether they knew if there was any drug use involved, police said they have to wait for toxicology reports to come back, which could take several weeks. An autopsy will be performed later on Monday or on Tuesday.
Police confirmed that they do have some surveillance video from buildings in the area of the incident, but they are not releasing that surveillance video to the media.
When asked whether the officer or officers that fired the tasers were put on any kind of leave pending an investigation, Thompson said that decision has not yet been made.
NEWSChannel 2 has reached out to John Havener Jr.'s family, and we were told that the family does not have anything to say at this time.
Police are asking anyone who might have been in the vicinity of where this incident occurred around 4:30 a.m. Monday to call New York State Police at (315) 366-6000.
Photo courtesy of John Havener on Facebook