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Man’s Death Ruled ‘Excusable Homicide’

July 25, 1991

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ The death of a man who died after he was hog-tied by police was unnecessary, but ″excusable,″ a judge has ruled.

Duval County Judge Harold C. Arnold ruled Wednesday that the term ″excusable homicide″ describes ″the tragic, unfortunate and unnecessary death of David Michael Sharp.″

Sharp, 35, was arrested Feb. 2 for public intoxication. While waiting outside the jail to be booked, he got into a fight with police. Officers wrestled him to the ground and hog-tied him, and he apparently had a heart attack.

When he was taken to the hospital 90 minutes later, he had no pulse. He died the next day.

The judge said he could find no evidence that officers knowingly caused Sharp’s death.

″The officers responsible for hog-tying Mr. Sharp and delaying his departure for the hospital were under the impression that he merely was a passed-out drunk,″ the judge said.

″The officers may have very well have been negligent in a number of respects. However, no reasonable person could contend that their actions ruse to the level of culpable negligence,″ he ruled.

A prosecutor said the judge’s ruling is not a vindication of the police.

″This is a damnation of how this American citizen was handled that night. I don’t care if the man was drunk. I don’t care if he was unruly. He’s an American citizen and should have been handled differently,″ said Assistant State Attorney Wayne Ellis.

Sharp’s family claims his death was a result of a police beating and not a heart attack. The family has given the city a required six-month advance notice of its intention to file a lawsuit.

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