Former Pa. police chief arrested, dies after being tased

The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington County, Pa., where events unfolded that led to former Rankin Police Chief Darryl Briston being tased and, ultimately, to his death from an apparent heart attack, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.
CBS Pittsburgh

(CBS) PITTSBURGH - A former Rankin, Pa. police chief died Friday from an apparent heart attack, after he was tased by police officers struggling to take him into custody, CBS Pittsburgh reports.

The encounter followed an alleged altercation involving ex-chief Darryl Briston, his estranged wife, and her male companion, the station said.

It started Friday around 11:30p.m. at the Meadows Racetrack in Washington County, where police say Briston saw his ex with another man at the casino.

Briston approached them and punched the man in the face, according to the police report.

Casino security intervened and requested backup from State Police Gaming officers and local police.

Briston fled the scene and made it at least one-quarter mile before police caught up with him, CBS Pittsburgh reports. Police say Briston resisted their attempts to restrain him and would not follow commands to place his hands behind his back. They say Briston was warned if he did not comply, he would be tased.

When Briston failed to cooperate, police say he was tased in the "upper right leg" one time for two seconds, the station says.

After that, police say Briston complied and was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police car.

Some time after that, he started to complain that the cuffs were too tight and later said he was having trouble breathing.

Police called an ambulance. Briston went into cardiac arrest.

The former police chief was then taken to Canonsburg General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Washington County Coroner Tim Warco issued a report Saturday stating that "there were no signs of any external or internal trauma." Complete autopsy results were pending.

In 2009, Briston was also arrested for allegedly assaulting his ex-girlfriend, but a judge dismissed the charges on grounds there was not enough evidence, CBS Pittsburgh reports.

Briston had been fired as police chief in 2003 after being convicted of stealing more than $5,000, the station says.