The grieving family of the 49-year-old Bronx man who died after police used a stun gun to subdue him called Friday for the state Attorney General to open a criminal investigation.
Relatives of Ariel Galarza were left bereaved and unable to believe that the peaceful, learning disabled man threatened cops during a confrontation that ended with his death.
“I feel terrible. My brother was not a violent person at all,” said the victim’s sister, Mildred Galarza.
Ariel Galarza was Tasered twice by an NYPD sergeant Wednesday as cops tried to talk to the 49-year-old as he menaced them with an unbroken bottle.
A neighbor had called 911 claiming Galarza threatened her with a knife.
Cops confronted Galarza and a sergeant, identified by sources as William Melrose, a 13-year veteran, used a stun gun on him.
Galarza fell to the floor. As officers tried to handcuff him, he struggled again.
Melrose then sent a second shock through the stun gun by holding the Taser directly against Galarza’s body, an approved NYPD tactic.
Galarza went into cardiac arrest but cops were able to revive him with CPR, officials said. He was rushed to Einstein Hospital, but he again went into cardiac arrest and died.
“This family wants the Attorney General to conduct an investigation regarding the issue of criminality involving this death by Taser of this fine man,” said family attorney Sanford Rubenstein. “The question that has to be raised here is the second Taser is very problematic.”
Mildred Galarza called her brother a “good, caring, loving person, peaceful person.”
Her brother’s death weighed heavily on Mildred Galarza Friday as she recalled happy times she spent with her sibling growing up in Park Slope.
On Thursday, she visited her brother’s apartment and left candles.
One of her cousins spoke with the woman who initially called 911, leading to the confrontation between her brother and the responding officers.
“The lady said she made a mistake, (that) he was a good person, I never should have called the police,” Galarza said the neighbor told the family.
Rubenstein said the remorse felt by the neighbor, who was heckled by others on the block a day earlier, was all too common in today’s society.
“This is not the first time when people who have called the police for help end up afterwards saying ‘I never should have called the police,’ ” Rubenstein said. “This is not good for our society.”
The NYPD’s Force Investigation Division was looking into Galarza’s death.
Melrose, assigned to the 45th Precinct in the Bronx, remained on full duty.
Members of state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit are reviewing Galarza’s death for possible jurisdiction under a 2015 executive order by Gov. Cuomo.
“It doesn’t add up, it really doesn’t. My brother was not disrespectful to authority,” Mildred Galarza said. “I want justice for my brother ... for this not to happen to anyone else.”
Send a Letter to the Editor