Carjacking suspect dies after New London police use Taser on him

Albertha Fletcher, the aunt of 31-year-old Lashano J. Gilbert, talks about her nephew in her home on Garfield Avenue in New London Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. Gilbert was charged with attempted carjacking and he died after police used a Taser on him following an extended struggle, according to the New London police. Fletcher's daughter, Taliah, is in the background.
Albertha Fletcher, the aunt of 31-year-old Lashano J. Gilbert, talks about her nephew in her home on Garfield Avenue in New London Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. Gilbert was charged with attempted carjacking and he died after police used a Taser on him following an extended struggle, according to the New London police. Fletcher's daughter, Taliah, is in the background.

New London — A 31-year-old man who died early Saturday after city police said they used a Taser on him twice in eight hours was a medical school graduate from the Bahamas who was visiting relatives in the city.

Lashano J. Gilbert, charged with an attempted carjacking at 7 p.m. Friday, died early Saturday after police used a Taser on him following an extended struggle in the lockup at police headquarters, according to Acting Police Chief Peter Reichard.

Gilbert suffered a medical condition while being taken to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in a New London Fire Department ambulance sometime after 3 a.m., according to Reichard. Hospital staff could not revive him.

The state police Eastern District Major Crime Squad and State’s Attorney’s office are investigating.

Gilbert had arrived in town on Thursday, surprising family members in the city who weren’t expecting him. They said he grew up in the Bahamas, graduated from medical school in Cuba, was fluent in several languages and was trying to upgrade his medical license in Canada. He was staying with his aunt, Albertha Fletcher, who lives on Garfield Avenue.

Fletcher and her adult children were astonished when they heard the details of Gilbert’s last hours. They said Gilbert seemed “stressed” about his medical license but did not have, to their knowledge, any criminal history, addictions, mental illnesses or other problems that would result in a violent struggle with police. Fletcher said she went through Gilbert’s luggage with police, and all they found was “his medical license and awards.”

“It’s a little shocking,” said Tyrae Fletcher, a cousin. “I’m trying to give them (the police) the benefit of the doubt. At the same time, you have things that don’t add up.”

Gilbert had been treated and released from L+M earlier in the night after police first used a Taser on him during a struggle that ensued as officers took him into custody for the attempted carjacking incident.

In that incident, Gilbert had jumped into the open window of a car at Williams and Broad streets about 7 p.m., according to Reichard, who said Gilbert was in an altered state of mind, speaking in a bizarre manner and motioning as though he was attempting to stab the female driver. She and onlookers called 911. The driver ultimately “floored” the car to get Gilbert off her and stopped the car near the intersection of Williams and Waller streets.

Once in custody, police took Gilbert to the hospital for treatment and removal of the Taser prongs. He was “medically cleared,” according to Reichard, and was returned to police headquarters.

At about 3 a.m., Gilbert removed his pants while in a holding cell and began twisting them as though he were making a rope, Reichard said. Fearing he would harm himself, police opened the door to retrieve his pants. Gilbert rushed the door, pushed the officers and escaped into the booking room, where he began throwing objects at officers, including an intoximeter, according to Reichard.

Reichard said Gilbert placed a female officer in a headlock, released her and ran across the room. Officers cornered him and took him to the ground as he violently resisted being handcuffed. He bit the same female officer several times on her foot and ankle during the struggle, which lasted several minutes, Reichard said. A backup officer who arrived used a Taser on Gilbert, at which time police were able to gain control and handcuff him, Reichard said.

Three officers were injured during the incident, according to Reichard.

Gilbert was charged with attempted carjacking, third-degree assault, third-degree criminal mischief and interfering with an officer following the earlier incident. A report of the incident lists Kurt Lavimoniere as the arresting officer, Patricia Tidd as the officer who transported Gilbert and Melissa Schafranski as the booking officer.

Albertha Fletcher said Gilbert seemed fine Friday, and that she took him to the bank to exchange his Canadian currency. She said she left him at her home while she went to her job as a school crossing guard and ran errands and that he was not home when she returned at 4:30 p.m.

k.florin@theday.com

Twitter: @KFLORIN

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