Berger grabbed deputy's taser during Oz Fitness altercation

SPOKANE, Wash. - 20566652

During a confrontation with deputies on June 6, Will Berger was tased several times and was yet able to continue fighting, getting a hold of one of the deputies' tasers and attempted to use it.

According to investigators who are looking into the incident at the Oz Fitness Center on the South Hill, two deputies responded to calls that Berger was behaving disorderly. When the first deputy arrived, he met Berger in the middle of the street and Berger began hitting the deputy's vehicle.

The deputy tried to calm him and Berger responded by taking a fighting stance. The deputy tased Berger and he fell to the ground.

Tthe deputy contacted Berger trying to get him to calm down, he did deploy his taser at which point he did go down to the ground feeling the affects of the taser," Washington State Patrol Trooper Jeff Sevigney said.

But that wasn't enough to stop Berger, who had once worked as a reserve deputy for the Whitman County Sheriff's Office, who got up and pulled out the taser probes and wire. Berger was tased two more times but continued to fight, a bizarre situation when you consider what is supposed to happen normally when you're hit with a taser.

"The electricity from the taser would cause your muscles to tense up and render you unable to fight," Richard Gere with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office said.

Berger was then placed in what police call a lateral vascular neck restraint, basically a forearm around the neck, but Berger pulled the deputy's arm away as they fought.

During the fight Berger even grabbed one of the tasers and attempted to use it against the deputies.

It wasn't until he was placed in a neck restraint for the second time he stopped resisting and that's when deputies noticed he stopped breathing.

"If used incorrectly is it possible someone can be injured, absolutely," Gere said. "Generally most people will wake up in 5 to 20 seconds so they are only unconscious for a short period of time."

Paramedics, who had already arrived at the scene, were able to revive Berger and he was transported to Sacred Heart Medical Center. However he did not recover, doctors later declared him brain dead and he was taken off life support.

The two deputies involved in the altercation were treated for cuts and bruises.

The incident is under investigation by the Spokane Investigative Regional Response team. Berger's family attorney had no comment on the information released Thursday, but did say she's conducting an independent investigation on the incident.

The medical examiner said Berger's cause and manner of death is still pending further studies, including results of a toxicology report, which could take several weeks to complete.