NEW PORT RICHEY — The Pasco Sheriff's Office says a man died early Saturday after severely cutting himself crawling through a broken window into an occupied home and eventually clashing with deputies, who tased him several times.
Investigators say the cause of death for 35-year-old Torrey Lamar Robinson, of New Port Richey, remains undetermined, but he suffered multiple lacerations after crawling through a kitchen window, which they believe he broke with a piece of brick, around 2:30 a.m.
Deputies say he then walked toward a bedroom in the house, located at 9226 Dredsen Lane, just down the street from his own home, and slid his hand through an opening in the door. When the woman inside the bedroom, who has not been identified, saw Robinson's hand, she screamed for her son to come and help.
When Pasco Sheriff's deputies arrived to find an unarmed Robinson in an altercation with an unidentified resident inside the home, they tried to take him into custody.
At a press conference Saturday, Sheriff Chris Nocco said that the four deputies on scene, all of whom were wearing body cameras recording the incident, attempted to restrain the 5-foot-10 man so fire rescue responders could treat his cuts. But when he resisted and tried to hit deputies with a box of nails he found inside the house, they tased him.
Pasco Sheriff's Captain Jeff Peake said at the press conference that the altercation between Robinson and deputies lasted 11 minutes, "a long period of time involving several deployments" of the Taser.
"The fact that he had a significant injury on his arm was a concern, so we wanted to keep him calm and keep him from moving," he said. "At times he was passive, other times he was very agitated."
The sheriff stressed that the tases were "not in rapid succession." He said the Taser was used to "get (Robinson) to relax" in lieu of handcuffs, which he said would have only made his injuries worse.
"Deputies were trying to de-escalate, de-escalate, de-escalate, because the more the heart pumps the more blood that pours out," he said. "Tasing was the most effective way."
Melanie Snow, spokesperson for the Pasco Sheriff's Office, said the deployments were not "fresh tases," meaning although Robinson was tased multiple times, the Taser was only connected to him once and remained connected throughout the 11 minutes he was inside the house.
She said deputies eventually handcuffed Robinson, who then became unconscious and was transported to a local hospital, where he died.
Nocco said recordings from the deputies' body cameras cannot be released until theState Attorney's Office reviews them, but they show no fault on the part of the agency.
"Our deputies worked appropriately and we were justified in our actions," Nocco said. "It is unfortunate (Robinson) put us in this tragic situation."
He said his agency will be working closely with the State Attorney and the Medical Examiner's Office to determine the cause of Robinson's death and promised to be "as honest and forthcoming as possible" with the findings.
Keep up with Tampa Bay’s top headlines
Subscribe to our free DayStarter newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
Snow said investigators are also working with Robinson's wife, a cab driver who was working an overnight shift when he went to break into the house. She told detectives he was supposed to be watching their two children, who are both under 8 years old, but left them at home alone.
When investigators searched Robinson's home they found a white powdery substance, which is being tested to determine if it is narcotics, along with drug paraphernalia.
Snow said the break-in does not seem to be drug-related and investigators believe it was random.
Contact Megan Reeves at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4153. Follow @mreeves_tbt.