By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — A 26-year-old North Mankato man who died after being found unconscious at the downtown Hy-Vee store was tasered twice by at least one of the police officers who arrested him.
Andrew Layton was unconscious in the store’s entry when police officers arrived at about 4:40 a.m. Jan. 1. An initial news release only said he was arrested because he became combative, his heart stopped on the way to the jail in an ambulance and he was brought to the Mankato hospital after he was revived. He died there Jan. 5 and the investigation was turned over to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
More public information about the incident was released Friday morning at the request of The Free Press. That report confirmed that weapons were used during the arrest, but it didn’t say how many weapons or what type of weapons were used. City Manager Pat Hentges later confirmed tasers were used during the incident.
The report also said the officers involved in the incident were Daniel Best, Kenneth Baker, Kyley Groby, Audrey Burgess and Cmdr. Craig Frericks.
Brad Hanson, Layton’s uncle, said Layton’s mother, Cheri Hanson, was initially told by hospital staff that her son had not been tasered. He doesn’t know if hospital staff members assumed Layton hadn’t been tasered or if they received that information from police.
“We just learned there’s some discrepancies between the police report and the BCA investigation,” Brad Hanson said. “At first they didn’t say there was a taser. Now they’re saying a taser was used. We’re getting that from the bureau.”
The initial Department of Public Safety news release also said an ambulance responded to Hy-Vee and Layton was taken to the Blue Earth County Jail in the ambulance. Layton’s family also had questions about why, if an ambulance was necessary, Layton was taken to jail and not the hospital. Layton’s heart stopped at some point on his way to the jail and he wasn’t taken to the hospital until after he was revived.
When Hentges was asked those questions, he provided some answers by forwarding an email to The Free Press that was sent to him by Todd Miller, director of Public Safety.
The email said Layton “immediately became combative” and fought “violently” with the first officer who arrived at the scene. It also confirmed a tasing device had been used on Layton.
“The officer called for assistance and additional officers and a commander responded to the scene,” Miller’s email said. “During the struggle, the individual did not respond to officer’s (sic) repeated commands and subsequently was tased twice in an effort to control him.”
Officers were able to handcuff Layton and identify him as someone they had been in contact with before. A Gold Cross Ambulance crew was called because the officers were concerned about how violent he had been and suspected he had been using drugs.
“An ambulance was summoned for Mr. Layton and for reasons that remain as of yet unclear, Gold Cross Ambulance personnel transported Mr. Layton, along with two Mankato police officers riding in the ambulance, to the Blue Earth County Justice Center.”
An autopsy was done by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office Jan. 6. Hanson said he was told the autopsy report has not been completed.
The Jan. 1 incident isn’t the first time Layton had been arrested. He had been charged with methamphetamine possession as recently as August and he was arrested in 2010 for assaulting a police officer during a routine traffic stop in Austin.
Hanson said, as far as he knows, Layton had quit using drugs recently. He also said hospital staff told his mother there were no drugs in Layton’s system, but there was a “little bit” of alcohol.
The family has been able to figure out where Layton was up until about two hours before the Hy-Vee incident. Hanson said Layton was at his girlfriend’s house with other people until about 2:30 a.m.
“He borrowed her phone and wasn’t seen after that,” Hanson said. “The next thing anyone knew he was at Hy-Vee. We don’t know why he was at Hy-Vee. Was he ill? Was he injured? I really don’t think we’re going to know for awhile.”