Tampa police say use of Taser on man with meningitis was appropriate

(Robert Herriman)   The Tampa Police Department came out yesterday saying that the use of a Taser on a man acting strangely was appropriate.

The case surrounds a situation that occurred over the weekend. Police say that a citizen flagged them down on Saturday afternoon saying there was a “crazy man” beating on cars on the corner of Kennedy Boulevard and Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa.

When police approached 23-year-old Jairious McGhee they claim his eyes were bloodshot and he lunged at an approaching officer. After failing to restrain McGhee, police used a Taser to control him.

This is where the story takes an unusual twist. Believing McGhee was mentally ill, police took him to Tampa General Hospital for a psychiatric exam under the State’s Baker Act.

It was later discovered that Mr.McGhee was suffering from a severe case of viral meningitis, with a fever of 105 degrees. Police at the time of the arrest were unaware that McGhee was physically ill.

Jairious McGhee died one day later as a result of the meningitis. Delirium can be a late stage symptom of viral meningitis, which is not usually fatal, however, as the Tampa Tribune reports, Todd Wills, a University of South Florida physician and professor specializing in infectious diseases, said it’s rare for viral meningitis to cause the type of behavior police attribute to McGhee. “It’s very unlikely that viral meningitis by itself could do all of that,” he said.

The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office is still waiting on the results of the toxicology exam.


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