New York State Police have released more details regarding the incident on Route 5 in Oneida earlier this week that resulted in the death of a Vernon Center man after he was tased.
Police say at approximately 4:21 a.m. Monday, Jan. 22, the Madison County 911 Center received a call from a female driver reporting that a man was walking in the roadway along Genesee Street (Route 5) near the State Police Troop D headquarters, screaming and trying to get into passing cars.
Photo courtesy of John Havener on Facebook
Oneida Police Officer Daniel Slator and Oneida Police Officer Jeffrey Barres responded to the scene and found a man, later identified as 41-year-old John Havener Jr. of Vernon Center, standing in the road holding a flashlight and screaming incoherently, according to police. Police say that officers approached Havener and tried to get him out of the road using verbal commands, but Havener allegedly refused to listen and then was physically combative when officers made physical attempts to get him out of the road.
Police say that officers then used pepper spray and deployed a hand taser. Canastota Police Officer Derek Oursler then arrived on scene to assist, and after Havener continued to resist, police say a taser was used again.
Members of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and New York State Police arrived on scene a short time after and secured Havener with handcuffs and restraints.
Officers then requested an EMS response when they noticed Havener “having a medical event and appeared to be in distress,” according to police. Vineall Ambulance responded and transported Havener to Oneida Health Care Facility, which is located a half-mile from the scene, where he died shortly after.
Police say autopsy results from the Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office showed no anatomical cause of death, and toxicology results could take several months. But according to police, the preliminary investigation found that Havener used methamphetamine before the incident.
Police say the investigation thus far found that around 3 a.m. Jan. 22, Havener and a male passenger left a residence in Munnsville in a gray 2005 Toyota Corolla and they were headed toward Walmart on Genesee Street. Havener’s passenger told police that as they were driving down Genesee Street near Glenwood Plaza, Havener began driving erratically, and the passenger grabbed the steering wheel a couple times because he was afraid of crashing, and was afraid of how Havener was acting.
Police say that after they passed the traffic light at Dream Catchers Plaza, Havener became very agitated and began driving backward down Route 5 for unknown reasons. Havener’s vehicle then struck a curb and snowbank near the State Police Troop D headquarters, according to police.
After the vehicle crashed, Havener’s passenger says he grabbed the keys from the vehicle and ran down Genesee Street toward McDonald’s.
Police say that drivers who witnessed Havener driving erratically and witnessed his interaction with police have come forward to state that Havener was in the road acting belligerent and aggressive toward police. Witnesses have also said that Havener appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Police say the names of the two responding Oneida police officers and the responding Canastota police officer are being released at the request of the Oneida and Canastota police departments.
State police say that no further details will be released until the investigation has been concluded by New York State Police and the New York State Attorney General’s Office.
It’s standard protocol for the Attorney General’s Office to investigate a police-involved death of an unarmed civilian.
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