Neighbors, family: Victim of stun gun death not violent

The neighbors and family of a man who died after police used a stun gun on him gathered outside his home Thursday saying the way police described the 49-year-old's actions seemed out of character.

Mildred Galarza says her brother, Ariel Galarza, was peaceful and was not an emotionally disturbed person. She says he was diagnosed with a mental disability but lived independently. 

Police say they responded to a call of a report for an emotionally disturbed person on Mayflower Avenue around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Galarza allegedly threatened three uniformed officers and a sergeant with a glass bottle. 

According to police, Sgt. William Melrose discharged his stun gun, and officers restrained Galarza. The man went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead at Einstein Hospital.

Mildred Galarza says her brother recently filed a lawsuit against the landlord of the building. She says he may have been the one who initially called police.

The incident comes just three weeks after another police sergeant shot and killed an emotionally disturbed 66-year-old woman in the Bronx who threatened him with a baseball bat. His actions prompted outrage from the public and city officials, who questioned why the eight-year veteran did not use a stun gun to subdue the woman.

Police say Galarza had no prior criminal history and that a medical examiner will determine the cause of death. 

Ed Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, says Melrose used proper protocol while using the stun gun.

"To the public, follow the directions of the police officers," Mullins advises.

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