NAPLES — Years ago when her sister died, Marti Guilbeau took custody of her nephew, a mentally ill boy by the name of Linel Lormeus.
Lormeus couldn’t do much because of his illness, but he was generally calm, and Guilbeau treated him as her own.
“He became like my son,” she recalled.
Lormeus died Sunday night after a violent confrontation with Guilbeau resulted in Collier deputies responding to the home and using a Taser to subdue the 26-year-old man. Lormeus suffered an unknown medical emergency moments after being handcuffed, and he died hours later in a Naples emergency room.
Monday, Guilbeau mourned her adopted son’s death, and she wondered if deputies could have handled the situation more gently after a neighbor called 911.
“He called police for help,” she said through a translator. “Instead, they killed (Lormeus).”
The Sheriff’s Office is conducting an internal investigation into the actions of the officer, according to a press release, and the agency has requested the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conduct an outside investigation into the incident. Results of the inquiry will be forwarded to the State Attorney’s Office, which will determine if any of the officers are criminally culpable.
The Sheriff’s Office issued the release on Monday afternoon, shortly after the Daily News inquired about the death following a tip. The agency did not make an official incident report public on Monday, citing the need for investigators to look over documents before release.
Lormeus died Sunday night at 11:44 p.m., according to the release.
Monday, the night’s violence was still visible in Guilbeau’s apartment, at 4130 16th Pl. SW. Holes in the wall and the ceiling mark the impacts of a 10-pound dumbbell, which Lormeus wielded and swung at his aunt, she said.
Guilbeau left the house and asked a neighbor for help. The neighbor instead called 911.
Three deputies arrived at the scene, Guilbeau recalled. She said she told them her adopted son was mentally ill, and she asked them to be gentle with him. When deputies knocked at the door, Lormeus opened it and allowed them inside, Guilbeau said. He panicked when they tried to handcuff him.
According to the press release, Lormeus ran as soon as deputies arrived.
Guilbeau didn’t see what happened next, but she said that a witness told her Lormeus was tackled to the apartment floor by deputies. She heard that he was able to get back up and began running deeper into the apartment, hiding in a closet. That’s when the Taser was used, she heard.
The press release states that Lormeus was physically combative with deputies, forcing them to use the Taser. One of the deputies, Cpl. Alfred Rodriguez, injured his knee during the effort to subdue the suspect, according to the release.
Lormeus suffered a medical emergency as he was handcuffed, the release states. One deputy performed CPR as another ran for a defibrillator. Paramedics were called to respond to the scene. Lormeus was taken to the Pine Ridge campus of Physicians Regional Hospital, where he later died.
The District 20 Medical Examiner’s Office will release a cause of death following an autopsy. Guilbeau said she wasn’t aware of Lormeus having any health issues.
She said her adopted son had received treatment in and out of Haiti for his mental illness. He had been prescribed pills in Hatii, but he didn’t have them in the U.S. during his latest stay. Guilbeau estimated that roughly a year and a half had passed since Lormeus last took his medication.
“Since then, he was very calm,” she said through a translator. “(He) went to church every Sunday and listened to his mother. Then he started acting up last week.”
As dusk fell on Monday, Guilbeau lay on a mattress in the middle of her apartment living room, phone in hand and forearm covering her face. Friends arrived to offer sympathies, and they sat in silence on the couches and chairs around the room.
“The police are supposed to help, gently,” Guilbeau said.