The Shermans called police when their son, Chase, had a breakdown after taking synthetic drugs
Death certificate lists death as homicide, says it was caused by Taser, "compression of the torso"
Attorney: After paramedics left with body, officers applied sanitizer and gave each other high-fives
Mary Ann and Kevin Sherman had just celebrated their youngest son’s wedding in the Dominican Republic and were on their way back home to Florida when their older son started acting strangely.
Chase Sherman was always a joker, so when he began goofing off at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, they weren’t too concerned.
Little did they know their 32-year-old son’s behavior was the beginning of an ordeal that would end with Coweta County officers tasing Chase Sherman to death. Now, the family and its lawyer are demanding answers.
“He didn’t deserve to be treated like this,” attorney L. Chris Stewart told reporters Thursday of the November incident. “He didn’t deserve to be tortured and killed by two deputies. You’ll hear from the family that they immediately came in aggressive, they didn’t try to talk him down and immediately resorted to using their Tasers on him.”
Chase Sherman began acting more erratically as the Shermans went to board their last flight home in Atlanta. He said he didn’t want to get on the plane, so the family and Chase Sherman’s fiancé, Patti Galloway, decided it would be better to rent a car and drive the five hours home to Destin.
Chase Sherman eventually told them he had taken the synthetic drug Spice before their trip and was having a bad reaction. The family decided to take him home to see a doctor, Mary Ann Sherman said.
Just south of Atlanta, Chase had another episode. He didn’t recognize his parents and was convinced he’d been kidnapped.
The Shermans decided to call for help to get their son to a hospital. On a 911 call, Mary Ann Sherman told a dispatcher her son was on drugs and was having a mental breakdown.
She stressed he was unarmed and asked that responders not hurt him. It was the first time she had ever called the police in her life, she told CNN.
“His parents did what everybody’s supposed to do. You call 911 because 911 brings help, but in Chase’s case, 911 brought death,” Stewart said.
According to the Shermans, when the Coweta County Sheriff’s Department arrived, deputies didn’t ask what the problem was or try to de-escalate the situation. Rather, they climbed into the backseat where Chase was buckled, handcuffed him, and threatened to shoot him before deploying their Tasers several times.
The Shermans and Galloway stood watching in disbelief, Kevin Sherman said.
“They grabbed him out like they were grabbing a dead deer out of a pickup,” he said. “Grabbed him by his front arms and just ripped him out and dropped him, and his head whacked against the concrete.”
After paramedics arrived and performed chest compressions, they loaded Chase into an ambulance and took him to Piedmont Hospital in Newnan, where he was pronounced dead.
“What’s even more heinous is that after these officers got done, after they dragged his body out of the car and threw it on the ground, after he was put in the back of an ambulance and driven off, right in front of his parents and fiancé, the two deputies put hand sanitizer on and they high five each other and start laughing,” Stewart said.
The death certificate states the cause of death as a homicide due to “several pulls of an electronic control device” and “compression of the torso by the body weight of another individual.”
The Shermans are asking the district attorney to press charges against the responding officers and demanding that footage from the officers’ body cameras be released to the public.
Prosecutors are reviewing the case and hope to make a decision on whether to charge the officers by April when the grand jury holds its next session, said Coweta County Senior Assistant District Attorney Kevin McMurry.
The decision on the body cameras will be made then as well, he said.
The Coweta County Sheriff’s Department did not immediately return CNN’s request for comment.
Stewart told CNN he’s never seen a coroner’s report like this.
“I didn’t think this report was real. … This man was tasered to death and had a knee put on his chest until he suffocated – while handcuffed,” Stewart said. “It’s a sad testament to how we treat the mentally ill or people that are having a breakdown.”
Kevin Sherman wept during Thursday’s news conference as he explained to reporters that he merely wanted his son back.
“We miss him every moment. We want justice for Chase,” he said. “And I don’t know why these police are out on the streets like that.”