Dante Parker, a 36-year-old father of five, died Tuesday after being tased multiple times by San Bernardino Sheriff's deputies, who were attempting to subdue Parker while putting him under arrest for attempted burglary charges.
Reports NBC Los Angeles: “Family members on Wednesday mourned the loss of a father of five and a beloved newspaper pressman who died while in police custody after deputies used a Taser stun gun on him. Parker was suspected of trying to break into a home in the 13000 block of Bucknell Court in Victorville on Tuesday afternoon when he was shocked with a Taser by deputies during a struggle to take him into custody, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.”
Parker’s family described him as a “hard-working family man,” and dispute the fact that Parker would have been involved in a robbery. Parker, who was riding on a bike near the reported home break-in on Bucknell Court in Victorville, was stopped by police, allegedly becoming hostile and belligerent, and the deputy, a female, shot him multiple times with her stun gun.
The homeowner said a black suspect rode away on a bike, putting Parker under suspicion. The sheriff's office reported that the deputy, when stopping Parker to question him, said Parker “appeared to possibly be under the influence of an unknown substance.”
Parker was employed at the local Daily Press newspaper; his coworkers described him as a “gentle giant.”
“He was a big teddy bear,” said Parker colleague Al Frattura. “He worked in our production department for 12 years...he was part of our family. He's a family man, he loves music. It’s just so unfortunate.”
Another friend of Parker, former Press employee Richard Laredo, said “Dante's not a burglar...You can see how well his kids were raised He was a good dad. For the police department to portray him like that Is unfair.”
Police said several deputies struggled to get Parker under control and into the back of the squad car. Once there, Parker began showing signs of distress. Paramedics were called, and Parker was transported to Victory Valley Global Hospital where he died. An autopsy is currently being done to determine his cause of death.
Parker’s sister, Youree Stewart, spoke about her brother. “We do everything together, as a family. He's a big part of our family. He's really going to be missed.”
Parker reportedly rode his bike to and from his job because he was working on losing weight. Neighbors said he could frequently be seen riding around the community with his family.
His cousin, Ge'shun Harris, said the police targeted the wrong man.
“I understand that he was big and intimidating, but whoever called the police was wrong, because I don't believe he was doing such a thing,” Harris said.
Parker’s death comes amid the recent shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen that was gunned down by police in Ferguson, Missouri last weekend. The shooting touched off a week of violent protests and looting. Police today released the name of the officer who shot Brown, after coming under tremendous pressure from the mostly-black community to do so.
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