WORCESTER — A man whom police shocked with a Taser-type device on Wednesday after he allegedly wreaked havoc inside a Worcester market, smashing items and charging at officers, died Thursday, officials said.
Worcester police said Wilmer Delgado-Soba, 38, of Fitchburg, died at Saint Vincent Hospital, about 15 hours after the episode at Pennywise Market on May Street.
The cause of death remains undetermined, pending an autopsy scheduled for Friday, police said. Delgado-Soba’s family said Thursday that he went into cardiac arrest about 20 minutes after being hit by the electroshock device.
His mother, Cecilia Soba, said in a brief interview in Spanish, which a friend translated, that the officers’ actions were “not justified for the crime he committed.” His uncle, Edwin Soba, said police should have treated Delgado-Soba differently, considering his state of mind at the time.
Edwin Soba did not elaborate, but Worcester Police Chief Gary J. Gemme said in a statement that “possible opiate use” and a “possible medical condition” may have contributed to Delgado-Soba’s violent behavior at the market.
He said police appear to have acted appropriately, based on video surveillance and witness statements, and “there is no indication” of excessive force.
Delgado-Soba entered the store at about 12:30 p.m. wearing only shorts and was asked to leave, as customers are required to wear shirts and shoes, police said. He flew into a rage and smashed a glass with a candle inside, police said in a separate statement.
He then sprinted around the store while clutching the shattered glass and began smashing more items, police said, at one point slamming down a shopping cart. He removed his shorts and tried to pour laundry detergent on them, eventually sitting on the floor until police arrived, the statement said.
The officers, who requested the assistance of paramedics, approached Delgado-Soba slowly and asked why he smashed the items.
He gave no response and later swung at officers and charged at them, according to police. One of the officers fired his electroshock device after Delgado-Soba allegedly ignored warnings to stop his outburst.
After being shocked, Delgado-Soba ran to the opposite end of the store, police said, and when he appeared to have calmed down, officers subdued him. But while on a stretcher, he began fighting with the paramedics, who discovered that he had a medical condition that worsened en route to the hospital, police said. Authorities did not elaborate on the condition.
Police did not say whether Delgado-Soba was armed when he charged at officers, and a department spokesman could not be reached for comment. Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.’s office, which will review the case, referred questions to police. The Worcester Police Department is investigating the matter.
Gemme identified the officers who encountered Delgado-Soba as Derrick Leto, an 11-year veteran; Rick Noonan, a 19-year-veteran; and Jon Kachadoorian, who has served for 21 years. Gemme did not say who fired the device, and he offered condolences to Delgado-Soba’s family.
The chief did not directly address the officers’ work status but said that in similar situations, officers are placed on paid administrative leave and required to undergo medical evaluations.
Before Delgado-Soba entered the market Wednesday, he had a bizarre encounter at the nearby 1000 Watts barbershop, said Jason Laracuente, who works there. He said Delgado-Soba rushed in and began shouting in Spanish about the need to defend himself.
He grabbed a child’s booster seat but put it down when he was asked to do so, Laracuente said. He said Delgado-Soba then sprinted out of the barbershop.
Delgado-Soba had prior brushes with law enforcement, including convictions for assault, breaking and entering, and trespassing, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported.
At the market Thursday, Joe Biladeau, 28, of Worcester, said he was standing outside the store on Wednesday as Delgado-Soba slurred his words, started a fight with three men, and then pushed him before entering the store.
Nicholas Perritt, a store employee, said Thursday at the Pennywise Market that Delgado-Soba destroyed condiments and juices and threw paper towels and candles.
“I feel bad for the guy, but he made his choice,” Perritt said. “It’s too bad.”