Man tased by deputies in University Place later dies

Staff writerMay 12, 2014 

A man who was tased Sunday night while fighting with Pierce County sheriff's deputies in University Place died hours later.

The Medical Examiner’s Office has not yet determined the cause of death for Ronald Hillstrom, 44.

Residents in the 4400 block of 76th Avenue West called 911 about 9:45 p.m. Sunday to report seeing a man armed with a screwdriver in the parking lot of an apartment building screaming for police.

When deputies arrived, Hillstrom was allegedly agitated and refused to obey orders.

"He didn’t think we were the real police, and he charged one of our deputies," sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said. "He was out of control, fighting and biting our deputies."

The four deputies who directly engaged with Hillstrom were put on administrative leave, per procedure following use of force, Troyer said.

During the scuffle, one of the deputies used a taser on Hillstrom. He was eventually contained and taken into custody. Troyer said investigators were still speaking with witnesses.

Troyer said Hillstrom was taken via ambulance to Tacoma General Hospital, where he died about 11:10 p.m.

It's unclear what Hillstrom was doing in the area. His last known address was in Spanaway, but Troyer said the man appeared to be a transient and had likely just moved into the area.

Hillstrom has prior convictions for assault and drugs.

Staff writer Alexis Krell contributed to this report.

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