At 6-feet-5-inches, Norman Oosterbroek was an imposing figure. It’s no surprise that Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Jay-Z, and even Nelson Mandela saw fit to make him their trusted bodyguard. But Ooosterbroek’s life was cut short at age 43 after a police scuffle in Florida that ended with him being tasered on Monday night. But was it tasers that killed the bodyguard, or was it drugs?
According to the Daily News, Oosterbroek was naked when he broke into a mansion owned by a couple named Markus and Christiane Jung on Monday night around 10:45 p.m. Christiane was the first to see Oosterbroek, and screamed for her husband. When her husband came to see what was going on, Oosterbroek allegedly began beating Markus with one hand while ingesting drugs with the other.
Oosterbroek was struck with police stun guns upon their arrival to the scene. There is no word on how many officers were involved or how many times he was struck with stun guns. He was rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Toxicology reports are pending.
“He was highly violent, uncontrollable and obviously wasn’t stable,” said Nancy Perez, spokeswoman for Miami-Dade police.
But since news of Oosterbroek’s death, a conversation about the safety concerns associated with the use of stun guns by law enforcement has re-emerged. The American Civil Liberties Union says that there is an almost decade-long pattern of taser-related deaths.
“It’s obvious to me that Taser electric shocks can make the heart stop,” said Dr. Douglas Zipes, a cardiologist and electro-physiologist at Indiana University.
The problem is, though stun guns and tasers are obviously less dangerous options compared to a shotgun, is it fair to categorize them as “non-lethal” in the arrest of unarmed individuals? Could chokeholds, pepper spray, or rubber bullets be safer alternatives? Those who oppose the overuse and improper use of tasers say that it’s worth looking into.
“The bottom line here is that anything a police officer can do to avoid the use of lethal force is a good thing,” said Jon Firman, research director at the International Association of Chiefs of Police. “It’s the most effective tool we have.”
In the case of Ooesterbroek, he did have a long history of drug problems and was in and out of rehab over the years. Police believe that he may have been under the influence of cocaine at the time of his death.
Oosterbroek, who was affectionately called the Dutch Giant, owned and operated RAD, one of the best-known personal security firms in the world. He is survived by his wife, April McDaniel, and two small children.