Former Rankin police chief dies after being struck with Taser

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The former chief of the Rankin Police Department died Saturday evening following a police chase that involved the use of a Taser.

State police at Washington said the death of Darryl L. Briston, 49, of North Braddock, has been ruled natural at this point in the investigation but that investigation is ongoing.

A police news release indicates that Mr. Briston was at the Meadows Racetrack and Casino in North Strabane at about 10:30 p.m. when he encountered his estranged wife and a male companion inside the casino.

A fight ensued, with Mr. Briston punching the companion, police said. The incident was witnessed by casino security officers. Local police from North Strabane as well as from the state police gaming enforcement office were called for assistance.

State police at Washington said in a news release issued this morning that Mr. Briston fled the casino on foot and was pursued by security personnel for at least a quarter-mile. "When attempting to take the decedent into custody, he refused several commands to present his hands to be handcuffed and resisted attempts to restrain him. At this time, he was again directed to place his hands behind his back and warned that a Taser would be deployed if he failed to comply," the news release reads. At this point, police said, a state police trooper used his Taser on Mr. Briston's upper right leg once for two seconds. Mr. Briston then complied with the officer's orders to place his hands behind his back and he was handcuffed, police said.

After being escorted to a North Strabane police vehicle, where he complained that his handcuffs were too tight, he began to complain that he was having difficulty breathing, police said.

"North Strabane Police immediately called Canonsburg Ambulance. They responded and immediately began treatment," the news release reads. But, Mr. Briston went into cardiac arrest and was transported to Canonsburg General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Police said 24 minutes elapsed between Mr. Briston's being taken into custody and his death.

The state police criminal investigation unit was asked to investigate but the preliminary probe indicates Mr. Briston died of natural causes, the news release indicates.

Mr. Briston was the former chief of the Rankin police.

In September 2009, a magistrate dismissed charges against Mr. Briston related to an attack on a former girlfriend.

Mr. Briston was fired as Rankin chief in 2003 after being convicted in federal court of theft and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to 37 months in prison and was released in December 2007.

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Karen Kane: kkane@post-gazette.com or at 724-772-9180.


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