Photos of Chase Sherman are displayed as his father Kevin Sherman attends a news conference. Photo: AP/David Goldman Chase Sherman can be seen struggling with sheriff’s officers, who threaten to shoot him if he tries to grab a Taser. Photo: New York Times
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Chase Sherman’s mother, who was in the front seat of the car during some of the ordeal, begged officers not to shoot her son. Photo: New York Times

Officers quickly realised Chase Sherman was not breathing. Photo: New York Times

Chase Sherman’s last words as he lay handcuffed in the back of a rental car were prophetic.

“OK, I’m dead, I’m dead,” he said between calls of anguish. “I quit, I quit.”

Minutes later, he stopped breathing.

The 32-year-old, from Florida, was on his way home from a wedding with his mother and fiance when they pulled over on a highway outside Atlanta on November 20.

Mr Sherman had been behaving erratically, possibly due to synthetic marijuana he took days earlier, and had bit his fiance and tried to jump out of the car as they drove through Georgia towards Florida.

But his family’s subsequent call for help from police ended with Mr Sherman dead on the Interstate 85 highway, stunned several times by Taser guns.

As with several recent police deaths in America, confronting video has emerged showing the fatal encounter with police, the aftermath and the panic that set in among officers when Mr Sherman stopped breathing.

The video, released by prosecutors in Georgia, has triggered a large response in America but, unlike other recent police deaths that have sparked national debate, there are no racial overtones. Both Mr Sherman and the sheriff’s deputies who subdued him are white.

However, Mr Sherman’s family believe the actions of police amount to torture.

“For four minutes and 10 seconds after he said ‘I quit’ they still Tasered him and kept him on the ground,” said L. Chris Stewart, a lawyer for the Sherman family. “That’s torture, and they killed him.”

“How can they do this when they know someone is having a breakdown? Once they started shocking him, how can someone comply when they’re being electrocuted over and over again?”

Footage from one of the deputy sheriff’s body-worn cameras shows Mr Sherman handcuffed and lying across the back seat of the car.

He is Tasered several times in an attempt to subdue him. When he tries to grab one officer’s Taser and radio he is Tasered more times and punched in the head.

Eventually, he is face down and sandwiched between the front and back seats with an officer on top of him.

Just before officers realise he is no longer breathing, calls of “I quit, I quit” and “I’m dead, I’m dead” can be heard.

Mr Sherman is dragged out of the car and CPR is commenced while his mother and fiance wail in the background.

The officer with the body-worn camera then starts saying “we’re f—ed due, we are f—ed” and “dude, I’m f—ing fired man” and tries to show other officers the damage Ms Sherman made to his handcuffs.

The Coweta County district attorney’s office is still investigating the death.

Australia has had Taser controversies of its own.

In 2012, Brazilian student Roberto Laudisio Curti was killed after being Tasered nine times and restrained by seven police officers using three cans of capsicum spray, two sets of handcuffs and a police baton.

The 21-year-old had taken LSD and was pursued, tackled and Tasered on Sydney’s Pitt Street after police thought he had been involved in an armed robbery.

Distressing footage from a camer mounted on a Taser was released during the inquest, showing Mr Curti struggling and screaming for help before suddenly going silent.

A coroner found the “thuggish” officers had acted like “schoolboys in Lord of the Flies” with little or no understanding of what threat or crime was supposedly being averted by violent struggle.

Criminal charges were laid against four officers but only one was found guilty.

More recently, a 51-year-old man from Riverstone died in March after being Tasered. He had tried to cut down a power pole outside his home and had doused police in petrol.

In January 2015, Kevin Norris, 38, suddenly slumped to the ground and died after being Tasered during a violent confrontation outside Bowral McDonald’s in the NSW southern highlands.

The New York Times with Fairfax Media

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