TAMAQUA, Pa. - The fiance of a Schuylkill County man who died moments after police used taser guns on him is speaking out exclusively to 69 News. She insists officers had other options and that her fiance did not have to die.
"He didn't deserve this," said Joanie Belford.
The incident happened early Friday morning in Tamaqua. State Police said Jose Paulino, Jr., 38, was screaming obscenities in a gas station parking lot. Officers pulled out their tasers when they said Paulino, who was unarmed, became aggressive. Paulino died on the way to St. Luke's Hospital in Coaldale.
Saturday afternoon, the Schuylkill County coroner said he was still awaiting the results of an autopsy.
"Stunning someone seven times? I don't think that's necessary," said Belford. "There was four officers. He wasn't that big of a guy. He wasn't a huge, strong guy."
The Pennsylvania State Police Major Crimes Unit has taken over the investigation and will review its findings with the Schuylkill County District Attorney.
Many in the small town are siding with police.
"The guy was out of control," said Lowell Koch of Tamaqua. "They had to do what they had to do."
Resident Keith Bieber added: "I think the cops handled it the way they were supposed to handle it. I think they had to do what they had to do to protect themselves and the other people around."
"After the investigation, of course, we will know if there was appropriate action or not," said William Reppy of nearby Orwigsburg.
Paulino had a criminal past, including convictions for disorderly conduct and theft. He was also accused of trying to lure children into his car in 2012 in Norristown, but the most serious charges were later dropped.
"He's made mistakes; he's human," said Belford.
She said Paulino had recently lost his job and was struggling.
"Something made him snap, and I know he was depressed. I know he wanted to see his children more than anything in this world," she said. "Why he snapped like that, I don't know. That's enough to make anyone snap."
Paulino's fiance insisted that he wasn't drunk or on drugs.