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Inquiry into Arizona man's death in Iowa may take weeks

CORALVILLE, Iowa -- The investigation into what caused the death of an Arizona man after he was arrested in Coralville could take weeks, according to the Johnson County attorney.

Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness said Thursday that investigators need to find out more about 40-year-old Thomas Martinez Jr., of Apache Junction, Ariz. He died at an Iowa City hospital on Tuesday.

"At this point, we're trying to gather more information on why he was in town and what he was doing," Lyness told the Iowa City Press-Citizen. "We know he has family in the area."

Police have said officers went to a business Monday afternoon to handle a man who reportedly was destroying property. Officers said Martinez wasn't coherent and appeared to be having "miniseizures." They suspected he'd used drugs.

They used electronic stun guns on him twice as he flailed about, resisting arrest and injuring one officer.

Police have turned over the investigation to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

"Any time there is a death associated with a recent police action, obviously that's of concern and should have a lot of public scrutiny," Coralville Police Chief Barry Bedford said. "Our department has stepped away from it. We are assisting as requested."

Autopsy results and toxicology tests could take weeks to complete.

Bedford said he couldn't discuss specifics about Martinez's arrest, but noted officers are expected to use the minimal force necessary to handle a situation. At times, he said, an electronic stun gun, commonly known as a Taser, is the best option.

"The Taser, typically and historically, although it produces pain, be it short and immediately over as soon as it's been discharged, and has little to no residual effect. It can avoid a lot of people getting hurt," Bedford said.


Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen,

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