Daniel McDonnell, 40, was being held in a First Precinct cell about 7:20 a.m. Friday when, "he began acting irrationally" and became combative, Suffolk police said in a news release. "A Taser was deployed but it failed to stop McDonnell. A second Taser was deployed and then officers were able to handcuff McDonnell."
He is the fifth person to die in Suffolk since 2005 after the use of a Taser, a controversial device conceived of as a nonlethal law enforcement alternative.
At the McDonnell home on North 7th Street on Friday afternoon, a family member said they had heard earlier in the day that McDonnell was dead. Family members declined to speak extensively about the incident, saying police had not yet given them any details on the death. They said it had been "a confusing and exhausting day."
McDonnell was arrested Thursday after a dispute with a neighbor. He faced a charge of second-degree criminal contempt, and was to be arraigned Friday morning in First District Court in Central Islip.
McDonnell's wife was at the court Friday morning for his arraignment, the family said, but he was never brought into the courtroom. Family members said they called her there to tell her that something had happened.
Tasers, used by thousands of police departments across the country to subdue suspects, have been a controversial issue for many years.
Newsday published an extensive article in 2009 about the device after the death of Darryl Bain, 43, of Coram, who, police said, was cocaine-impaired when he was shot with a Taser. He was highly agitated at the time and was shaking his mother, police said.