Sunday, December 17, 2017
Public safety

Spring Hill man dies after jolts from Taser

Nehemiah Lazar Dillard stood barefoot in the front yard of a stranger's home in a town south of Gainesville and delivered a message on Sunday.

"I'm going to meet my maker," he said. "And I'm not going alone."

By Monday morning, the 29-year-old Spring Hill man was dead.

Under the Baker Act, deputies had admitted Dillard into Gainesville's Meridian Behavioral Healthcare facility Sunday evening. The next morning, authorities say, he threatened staff members and struck one of them. When deputies arrived, they shot the 6-foot-3, 276-pound man twice with Tasers after he attacked them as well, according to Alachua County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Todd Kelly.

After Dillard was subdued and handcuffed, Kelly said, a staffer at the facility injected him with drugs. Dillard went into cardiac arrest and died soon after.

The medical examiner will determine whether the Taser shocks or possibly the injected drugs contributed to Dillard's death, Kelly said.

"We've had tons of Taser deployments over the years and always had positive results," he said. "We've never had any experiences resulting in something like that."

Authorities don't know why Dillard went to the home in Micanopy or how he got there. They suspect he may have traveled the 86 miles from Spring Hill on foot.

The residents of the home where Dillard was found gave him a pair of shoes and called his wife in Spring Hill, authorities said. She told them he had said the same things to her about his maker and not going alone.

Dillard was calm when deputies arrived, Kelly said, but they still admitted him into the behavioral health facility.

The next morning, Kelly said, Dillard stripped down to his underwear, tossed heavy metal chairs and destroyed other property. Authorities still haven't determined what prompted the outburst.

A pair of deputies tried to calm him down, but authorities say he wouldn't listen. When one of them first shot Dillard with a Taser, it didn't stop him, Kelly said. It made him more angry.

A fight ensued. Dillard punched the deputy in the face and cut his eye. A second deputy deployed a Taser, and the massive man fell to the floor. Still struggling, they handcuffed him. Then, Kelly said, someone at the facility injected two shots of an unknown drug into Dillard's buttocks.

Dillard was arrested in Hernando County on Jan. 30 after an alleged fight with his wife. According to a report, he poked her several times in the head, pulled her off the couch, then struck her across the face.

The couple, the report said, had been married for 10 years and had two children together.

A phone number listed on Dillard's arrest report went to voicemail. He spoke in a calm, quiet voice and called himself "Mr. Dillard."

"Thank you very much," he said at its end. "Have a blessed day."

John Woodrow Cox can be reached at (352) 848-1432 or [email protected]

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