Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Man dies after San Bernardino County deputies use Taser on him

May 11, 2011 | 12:56 pm

Man dies after San Bernardino County deputies use Taser on him

A 43-year-old man from the Lake Arrowhead area died after San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies used a Taser to subdue him after a traffic stop, authorities said Wednesday.

A deputy attempted a traffic stop on Allen Kephart, a local DJ and teacher’s assistant from Crest Park, after he allegedly ran a stop sign Tuesday on Highway 189 in Blue Jay, said Cindy Bachman, a Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman.

Kephart pulled into a Valero gas station parking lot about a quarter mile away, got out of the car and "became combative and uncooperative" with the deputy, Bachman said. Additional deputies arrived at the scene to assist, she said.

"The deputy attempted to place him under arrest, at which time he was Tased," Bachman said. “He became unconscious, and medical aid was immediately provided -- CPR."

Kephart was taken to a local hospital, where he was declared dead.

Kephart’s father, a member of the Sheriff’s Department’s volunteer mounted Rangers unit for decades, called his son’s death a senseless use of excessive force. The incident happened when his son was returning to the family home after filling up his car with gas in Crestline.

"To me, it’s not just a traffic stop. It’s murder. You don’t kill a person for running a stop sign," said Jack Kephart, also of Crest Park.

The father said witnesses told him that the deputy slammed his son to the ground. His son was Tased about eight times by two deputies, said Jack Kephart, who dismissed assertions that his son was combative with the deputies.

“He’s never raised a hand in 43 years. He goes to church three times a week. He does the audio for the church in Crestline," Jack Kephart said. “He works three jobs. He’s never had a drink. Never done drugs. Never smoked. Never done nothing."

Allen Kephart was heavyset, weighing about 350 pounds, and had high blood pressure, his father said.

“Those Tasers are deadly," the father said. “They should know there could be problems ... using them on someone who is heavy." He said he is considering taking legal action against the department.

Allen Kephart ran his DJ service in the mountain community, and also worked as a teacher’s aide and janitor for a local school district. He also held jobs at a local radio station and television station, his father said. 

Sheriff’s Department homicide detectives are investigating the incident, and the Riverside County coroner will perform an autopsy to determine Kephart’s cause of death, Bachman said.


Crime alerts for Sawtelle and 13 other L.A. neighborhoods

Lindsay Lohan might avoid jail by serving home detention

Schwarzenegger and Shriver are 'taking it one day at a time'

-- Phil Willon in San Bernardino

Photo: The Taser International X26, shown with a cartridge and spent probes. Credit: Stephen Osman / Los Angeles Times