ENFIELD, NC (WWBT) - Two dramatically different versions are surfacing of how a Midlothian man died in police custody, in North Carolina. Police confirm that Michael Gallagher, 55, was tased by an Enfield police officer, and later died.
However, the suspect's father, Charles Gallagher, believes police beat his son, according to what witnesses told him.
Gallagher was currently wanted in Chesterfield for grand larceny and breaking and entering. He was previously convicted in the county for petit larceny and identity fraud. His family says he took a trip to Enfield, North Carolina, for Mother's Day weekend, with his girlfriend.
Charles Gallagher is now grieving the loss of his son, and demanding answers over his death, while in Enfield police custody.
"I don't care if he was robbing the First National Bank. Once you're in custody, you don't kill him," said Gallagher, who believes what witnesses to the incident told him.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is now heading up the investigation surrounding Gallagher's death. Meantime, Sheriff Wes Tripp of Halifax County, North Carolina, says Enfield Police Lt. Jerry Powell responded to a call for a break-in Saturday night, at Holley's Flower and Gift Shop.
"He did notice the store had been broken into and, on further investigation, he found the suspect inside," said Sheriff Tripp.
Tripp says Powell and a former Halifax County deputy got into a physical altercation with Gallagher. Powell ultimately tased Gallagher. Gallagher was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
However, the suspect's father says witnesses say at some point, three more officers arrived on scene. Witnesses claimed to Gallagher that the officers began allegedly assaulting his son, while he was on the ground in cuffs.
"He was on the ground before these three other officers arrived, handcuffed…They're responsible for killing him, stomping on his head or whatever," retold Gallagher.
Gallagher says he and his family weren't allowed to see the body.
"They wouldn't let me see him. And I know why. Because he's beat up," continued Gallagher through tears.
A detective with the North Carolina SBI says the body was already in the process of getting moved to the medical examiner's office. Gallagher's autopsy was completed. Detectives are now waiting on results.
Even though Michael Gallagher is no stranger to breaking the law, his father says nothing he did justifies the way he believes his son died.
NBC12 didn't hear back from Enfield police, at the time of this report.
Lt. Powell is now on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.
Enfield is located between Rocky Mount and Roanoke Rapids, NC, about two hours from Midlothian.
Police ask anyone with information regarding this incident to call 800-334-3000.