The state attorney general's office is reviewing its authority to investigate the death of a man who police say was emotionally disturbed when he was Tasered Wednesday night during a confrontation with officers in the Bronx. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Friends and family of Ariel Galarza are angry and confused, wanting to know why he was Tasered by a police sergeant in the Bronx, a confrontation that led to his death.
"I would ask that they just please train their officers more because he did not deserve to die. He was a sweetheart," said friend Monica Charriez.
The NYPD says it received a 911 call on Wednesday about a violent and emotionally disturbed man wth a knife at a house on Mayflower Avenue. Residents say it was a neighbor who called police on Galarza.
"Then she just came out crying saying, no, that he was bugging out, that she was worried," said neighbor Derrick Reno.
Police say when they arrived, Galarza threatened them with a broken bottle. Sergeant William Melrose tasered him twice. The 49-year-old went into cardiac arrest and died.
Those who knew Galarza said he wasn't emotionally disturbed.
"No, he did not have mental illness. He was not mental. I want to investigate why," said friend Lydia Ramos.
"I don't know his medical records or anything like that. But he has never snapped that I have seen him or that I witnessed," said neighbor Jose Hernandez. "He was always regular, to himself, calm guy."
Some friends said Galarza had a minor stoke within the last year. A family member told us he had a slight learning disability but was not a threat.
"My brother wasn't a violent person," said his sister, Mildred Galarza. "I can't understand this. I want answers."
This deadly encounter comes just two weeks after another sergeant here in the bronx shot and killed a 66-year-old woman who suffered with mental illness.
The mayor and police commissioner said the woman, Deborah Danner, should not have been killed. The sergeant had his gun and badge taken away pending an investigation.
The sergeants' union says no one should be rushing to judgment on either case.
"Every incident is different. The question is, why did we use the Taser twice? Well then we could say, Should we have gone to the firearm? Where do we draw the line? said Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association. "It is Monday morning quarterbacking."
On Thursday, police investigators and the Bronx district attorney's office spent hours combing through Galarza's house for clues.