GREENFIELD — The county coroner will wait for toxicology test results before determining what killed an Indianapolis man who was shot with a Taser by Greenfield Police Department officers Friday night.
An autopsy was performed Sunday on Douglas Wiggington, 48, but Hancock County Coroner David Stillinger declined to release its findings Monday, citing the ongoing investigation by the Indiana State Police. He said he will wait for reports to be returned from the Indiana Department of Toxicology and will consult with a pathologist before deciding on Wiggington’s cause of death. Toxicology results are typically available in six to eight weeks.
Meanwhile, two police officers remain on paid leave.
A passerby called 911 just before 6:30 p.m. Friday after watching a man — later identified as Wiggington — fall to the ground as he walked in the 800 block of South State Street in Greenfield. The man appeared to be intoxicated, the caller told dispatchers, and had stumbled before falling into the grass, according to dispatch records.
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Greenfield officers Sgt. Rod Vawter and Patrolman Dillon Silver responded to the call. Wiggington became combative with the pair, and one of the fired a Taser at him, according to a news release from the Indiana State Police.
No information has been released on which officer fired the Taser or how many hits Wiggington received.
Immediately after the Taser was fired, the officers noticed Wiggington “was having medical problems,” according to the news release. They administered a shot of Narcan — a medication used to counteract an opioid overdose — and started CPR, officials said.
Greenfield officers are trained to use Narcan only when they believe a person is suffering an overdose from narcotics, officials said; no details have been released about where Wiggington was or what he was suspected to have taken before the encounter with police.
Dispatch records show Wiggington had a pulse when we was loaded into an ambulance and take to Hancock Regional Hospital. He later died there, officials said.
Vawter, an 11-year veteran, and Silver, who has been with the department for two years, have never been punished for excessive force in their careers with the city, officials said.
Indiana Public Access laws require the release of information about any incident leading to an employee’s suspension, demotion or termination; neither has any disciplinary record in his public file.
Witnesses told the Daily Reporter that Wiggington became aggressive with the two officers who arrived to help.
Tom Zornes of Greenfield was driving down State Street on Friday evening and noticed the disturbance. The scene was concerning enough that he decided to pull over to offer help to the police, he said.
The two officers seemed to be trying to put Wiggington into handcuffs, but the man wasn’t cooperating, Zornes said. Wiggington appeared to be trying to hit the officers; he was swinging and kicking in their direction as they tried to grab onto him and calm him, Zornes said.
“They did everything they could to get him under control,” Zornes said. “I was actually impressed by the restraint they showed.”
It was scary to see, said Leigh Barrett of Greenfield, who also drove by the scene.
Barrett said she watched Wiggington flailing about and was worried about the officers’ safety.
“They were probably fearful for their lives,” she said.
By the time Zornes turned around and stopped his car, Wiggington had already been hit with the Taser and was lying on the ground, he said. He seemed subdued at that point; so Zornes went on his way.
But those who knew Wiggington say they don’t know what would have made their friend act in such a manner. It seems out of character, friends say.
Ben Hunter of Mooresville said he saw news of an incident that left a man dead in Greenfield on social media Saturday morning. It wasn’t until later that evening that Hunter got a text message from a friend, who told him it was someone they knew. Hunter said he had just spoken to Wiggington last week, making plans to get a group together to play cards. According to Hunter, Wiggington was his normal congenial self.
Wiggington was friendly and outgoing, always the loudest one of the group, Hunter said.
“You always knew he was in the room,” he said.
Hunter said they would often stay up late playing cards — Wigginton was just OK at poker, but you’d be hard-pressed to beat him at gin rummy, he laughed, remembering an eight-hour stretch of the game in the dining area of a local McDonald’s.
In a statement on behalf of the Greenfield Police Department, Chief Jeff Rasche said the thoughts of his officers were with Wiggington’s friends and relatives.
“The Greenfield Police Department would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family of Mr. Wiggington during this difficult time,” he said.
“They did everything they could to get him under control. I was actually impressed by the restraint they showed.”
— Tom Zornes of Greenfield, witness