Police use Taser on Basalt man
August 15, 2002
A Basalt man got hit with the electric sting of a Taser gun as well as with six criminal charges after allegedly breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s home and threatening her Tuesday night.
Basalt police and Eagle County deputies apprehended Fred Gavitt, 40, after a manhunt of about an hour. Authorities were called to the Aspen-Basalt Mobile Home Park on Willits Lane at about 9 p.m. on a complaint that Gavitt had entered his ex-girlfriend’s trailer and was smashing things, according to a Eagle County Sheriff’s Office report.
Gavitt fled when Eagle County and Basalt officers responded to the scene. They searched in vain for about one hour when a call came that Gavitt had returned to his former girlfriend’s trailer.
Deputy Dave Lawson and Basalt officer Penny Wheatley discovered Gavitt in a shed behind the trailer, according to an incident report. The officers said he wouldn’t respond to verbal commands to leave the shed.
Deputy Lawson “tried to remove him with pressure point techniques,” the report said, but Gavitt couldn’t be taken into custody. Officers eventually coaxed him into the doorway of the shed and determined he had no weapon.
Basalt Police Sgt. Don Calvano joined his colleagues on the scene and attempted to subdue Gavitt with a kick to his shoulder. The suspect fell against the shed’s wall and as he was bouncing off it Calvano urged Wheatley to fire the Taser gun she had aimed at Gavitt, Calvano said.
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The Taser gun is a later and more powerful generation of weapon than the old stun guns, Calvano said. Basalt’s model possesses 26 watts and delivers 50,000 volts.
The gun can either fire barbed projectiles that penetrate clothing and stick in a target’s skin, or it can be used to deliver a jolt directly from close range. The gun fires two projectiles at a time from up to 21 feet away.
Once a target is struck, it “completely overrides their muscle system” for roughly five seconds, Calvano said. The projectiles leave a mark like a bee sting but apparently cause no long-term harm.
Gavitt was taken into custody with little trouble after he was struck. Officers noted that one of the projectiles was stuck in his chest while the other fell out.
Calvano said it is the Basalt department’s policy to call an ambulance to have medics rather than officers remove the darts. A Basalt ambulance was called to the scene, and Gavitt was transported to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs to be checked. He was cleared a short time later but while en route to Eagle County Jail he complained of a headache and was returned to the hospital for another check-up. He was again cleared and booked in jail at about 1 a.m.
Gavitt is being held on charges of domestic violence, harassment, criminal mischief, resisting arrest, menacing and wiretapping/eavesdropping, according to Eagle County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Kim Andree. The report didn’t explain the wiretapping charge, and the arresting officer wasn’t available.
Gavitt is being held on $6,000 bond.
[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]