- Associated Press - Saturday, November 1, 2014

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - The Pierce County prosecutor’s office won’t file any charges in connection with the death of a man who died after he was beaten, Tasered and hog-tied by sheriff’s deputies.

The prosecutor office’s decision comes after independent and concurrent investigations from the county’s Medical Examiner’s office and the sheriff’s office were completed. The medical examiner’s office concluded that 44-year-old Ronald Hillstrom’s death was accidental, The Tacoma News Tribune reported Friday (http://bit.ly/10cBzmU).

On May 11, deputies responded to 911 calls that a man was acting strangely in University Place. When deputies arrived, they found an agitated Hillstrom armed with a screwdriver, and he refused to obey commands from the deputies, the sheriff’s office said.

“He was shouting for the police, and yelling that he was on fire and someone was out to get him,” the prosecutor’s office said.

After he was restrained, Hillstrom was taken to the hospital, where he went into cardiac arrest. The medical examiner’s office said he died because of cardiac dysrhythmia, a condition where the heart beats irregularly.

“Factors that may have contributed to the dysrhythmia include cocaine use, excited delirium, an enlarged heart and hypoxia from restraints and rib fractures,” the prosecutor’s office wrote.

Hillstrom’s family disagrees and is suing the county for $10 million.

Raymond and Margaret Hillstrom contend deputies used excessive force in subduing their son. At one point, as many as four deputies physically engaged Hillstrom. He suffered broken ribs, a broken nose, cuts on his head and a “collapsed chest,” according to the lawsuit.

“The use of excessive force by these officers, as well as their attempts to cover up what they had done, were observed and documented by other residents of the apartment complex,” the lawsuit states. “Those residents were horrified by what savagery they witnessed that evening.”

Some of them recorded the incident on their cellphones. One recording shows a sheriff’s deputy repeatedly hitting someone with a large metal flashlight. That person’s cries of fear or pain are audible.

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Information from: The News Tribune, http://www.thenewstribune.com

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