No charges to be filed after man's 'psychotic break'

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 27, 2011

By Nathan Hardin
nhardin@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — A man that police say assaulted bystanders and jumped through a window on July 14 will not be charged.
According to Salisbury Police, Nathaniel Setzer, 27, “experienced a mental breakdown over the loss of a loved one.”
Setzer, of 129 E. 11th St., was taken to Rowan Regional Medical Center on July 14 after police said he was “out of his mind.”
The initial report said Setzer assaulted as many as three pedestrians and was shocked by police three times. Salisbury Police have clarified that Setzer reportedly was shocked six times in total, three times with electric probes and dry-stunned three additional times at the 100 block of East 11th Street.
Salisbury Police Deputy Chief Steve Whitley said the information was given to District Attorney Brandy Cook.
“Ms. Cook made the decision not to charge him,” Whitley said. “(Setzer) is receiving ongoing medical treatment.”
Cook said she chose not to charge him because of the circumstances surrounding the case.
Cook said it would be “difficult to prove criminal intent” based on a medical professional’s opinion that Setzer experienced a mental breakdown.
Setzer said he couldn’t remember how many times he was shocked, but said he was sure it was more than six.
“It was definitely more than three,” Setzer said.
His wife, Angela Goodman, said she thinks Setzer was shocked more than 20 times.
“He’s got 28 Taser marks on his back,” Goodman said.
Setzer attended a friend’s funeral a few days prior to the incident. According to Setzer, medical personnel told him this, and a potassium deficiency, may have led to his psychotic breakdown.
Setzer said he remembers being shocked, but said he was trying to show them his hand, which had been cut open after he jumped through the window of an abandoned house.
“I thought I was telling them, ‘Look at my hand,’ but they’re not even paying attention to my hand,” Setzer said.
According to Setzer, he was walking home after running at a nearby park when he started feeling strange.
“I was coming up Miller Street,” he said. “I started pacing back and forth and hearing voices and nursery rhymes.”
Setzer said he did not drink alcohol that day and that he hadn’t used any drugs.
“Even the hospital thought I was on coke or something,” Setzer said. “I don’t mess with that stuff and I hadn’t drunk anything. It’s too hot to drink.”
Setzer said he did not assault his wife, contrary to the initial police report. Goodman also said she was not assaulted.
According to Setzer, he fought with police because he was still trying to flee from the group of pedestrians who had jumped him.
I tried to apologize,” he said. “I guess that wasn’t good enough. They started stomping me out.”
Setzer said he was afraid the group would return, even after he was being confronted by police.
“I thought they were coming back,” he said. “I remember running through that glass and sitting in the back of that house looking at my hand.”
Dr. Bertrand Fote, an emergency medicine doctor at Rowan Regional Medical Center, said it’s common for people to have low potassium levels, but that it’s rare to have extremely low levels and that low potassium would not result in a psychotic breakdown.
“It doesn’t cause psychotic breakdowns,” Fote said. “Not that I have seen. Muscle weakness is the most common thing you would see.”

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