The Star-News of Wilmington reports that the incident happened Saturday afternoon as the coffin was being loaded into a hearse. The officers planned to quietly arrest Gladwyn Taft Russ III, but it turned into a scuffle.
The 42-year-old Russ was charged with communicating threats against his ex-wife who lives in another state. Officials said he failed to turn himself in as promised.
New Hanover County sheriff's chief deputy Ed McMahon said the officers' move backfired in the emotional environment. McMahon said the officers should have waited until after the cemetery service.
"It was never my intention to create any more problems for the family, and I am truly sorry and apologize for that," McMahon said, the newspaper reported.
Witnesses told the newspaper that two men wearing coats and ties appeared seemingly out of nowhere to arrest Russ and a scuffle ensued. Family members said the undercover police grabbed Russ, kneed him in the back of his leg and tasered him. At one point one of the officers' handguns fell to the ground, the newspaper reported.
In addition to the charges for allegedly threatening his ex-wife, Russ was previously convicted of resisting an officer, contempt of court and larceny. In the past, Russ also was charged with felony malicious conduct by a prisoner, assault on a government official, resisting an officer and disorderly conduct, the newspaper reported.