Man walking in freeway traffic dies after CHP Taser deployment

UPDATED: Tuesday, Jan. 29, 1:30 p.m., With victim’s identification.

RIVERSIDE — A Riverside man who was reportedly creating a hazard while walking in the lanes of traffic on the 91 Freeway during heavy, lunchtime traffic died after a CHP officer used an electric Taser device on him. CHP officials later explained the officer used the Taser while trying to prevent the man from being hit or injured by vehicles traveling on the freeway.

Officials have since identified 48-year-old, Leroy Richard Stephenson, as the man who died during last Thursday’s roadside confrontation, which happened on the westbound side of SR-91, near Adams Street, in Riverside.


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Last week’s incident began shortly before 12:30 p.m., when a CHP officer was dispatched to the area after CHP’s Inland Communications Center received multiple calls from motorists and witnesses reporting a pedestrian walking within the westbound lanes of traffic. 911 callers reported motorists were having to suddenly break or swerve around a man who CHP later described as a 6-foot-5, 240 pound, black male adult.

When the officer arrived he quickly spotted the pedestrian, later identified as Stephenson, “walking within the traffic lanes of the Adams Street off-ramp,” CHP later reported. The officer contacted Stephenson and directed him “away from the off-ramp traffic lanes,” said CHP.

“The pedestrian failed to comply with the officer’s orders and instead ran towards the freeway traffic lanes,” explained CHP. “In (an) effort to prevent the pedestrian from running into traffic lanes, the officer deployed his Electronic Control Device.”

Despite being Tasered, Stephenson “was actively resisting” the officer’s attempts to gain physical control of him, according to CHP, who said Stephenson appeared to lose consciousness and became unresponsive “shortly after being taken into custody.”

Officers on scene tried to revive Stephenson and continued providing medical aid until paramedics arrived and took over life-saving efforts. AMR then rushed the unconscious man by ambulance to Parkview Community Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased at 1:54 p.m.

Riverside Police Department is investigating the in-custody death and coroner officials are still working to determine Stephenson’s cause of death.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.

Contact the writer:

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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