Man dies after struggle with St. Paul police

  • Article by: ABBY SIMONS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 5, 2008 - 12:08 AM

Mom wants 21-year-old son to be remembered as full of life, not for the bad moments that might have led to his death.

Denise Chapman called her son Joseph Kubat an artistic young man, one who loved music and art, and spent his free time playing Guitar Hero with his family or learning to speak Portuguese.

And she wants people to remember the 21-year-old who dreamed of becoming a pharmacy technician as bright, inquisitive and full of life -- not the apparently suicidal man under the influence of drugs who died Sunday morning after fighting with St. Paul police.

He had been sprayed with a chemical irritant and shot with a Taser gun in an attempt to subdue him.

"We have good moments when we remember the things he did, things he said, our recent interactions with him," Chapman said late Sunday, nearly a day after the early-morning scuffle outside the St. Paul apartment that Kubat shared with his brother.

"And then we have bad moments when we remember what happened. How sad it is that we've lost him. He had a lot to share," she said.

St. Paul police said the scuffle that led to Kubat's death began when officers were called to the Wheelock Ridge Villa apartment complex in the 300 block of Wheelock Parkway at 2:43 a.m. about a suicide in progress involving a controlled substance.

A partially clothed man who Chapman said was her son confronted them and attacked two officers as they tried to calm him down, according to a St. Paul police news release.

The officers sprayed a chemical irritant after a short struggle. It had no effect on Kubat, who bit both officers. He continued to fight and an officer trained in using the Taser was requested.

Failed attempts to control the man led a third officer to deploy the Taser. He fought but was handcuffed, at which time he became unresponsive, said St. Paul police public information coordinator Peter Panos.

Paramedics treated him, but he died on the scene. His name had not officially been released Sunday night. Toxicology reports aren't expected until midweek, said Panos.

Chapman said her son was far from suicidal, and that she believes he took LSD, which triggered the outburst. Kubat's brother called police to help when he feared for his safety.

Chapman said she and her family -- Kubat was one of seven sons -- are not yet angry with the officers over her son's death. They first need to know what happened.

"I would not wish to be a police officer. I know it's very difficult, and I know there's dangerous situations that they go into," she said. "However, I have some definite questions and concerns about how they handled this. My boy was 145 pounds. He was unarmed and he was scared. Terribly scared."

The officers involved in the incident were treated and released at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. All three officers are on paid administrative leave during the investigation, which is standard procedure.

On Sunday, several residents of the 178-unit building expressed shock and sadness at the death. Some came home early in the morning to the sight of half a dozen wailing squad cars rushing into the complex's parking lot.

"They were full speed," said Val Muenyi. "It's just sad."

Chao Xiong contributed to this report. Abby Simons • 612-673-4921

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