LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – An Arkansas woman who died while handcuffed had flown into a rage that lasted an hour before she was subdued by a chemical agent and a stun gun, according to a woman who watched four deputies work to restrain the woman then try unsuccessfully to keep her alive.
Regina Twist, 36, of Hot Springs, died early Sunday after attending a Saturday evening barbecue at a friend's house near Springfield, 40 miles northwest of Little Rock. The woman visited regularly for weekend gatherings and had never shown similar behavior, according to the grandmother of the cookout's host, who lives on the same property.
"Everything was fine, then about 3 o'clock in the morning she got up and went into the bathroom," Nancy Hannum said. "When she came out, she was like a mad woman."
According to Conway County officials, the woman broke windows at the host's home, prompting him to call for deputies. Once outside, she began tearing up the inside of her own car.
"She was fighting everyone," Hannum said. "She would say, 'Call the cops,' and we'd tell her, 'These are the cops.'"
Hannum said deputies spent 30-45 minutes trying to talk her out of her car before she pulled out some type of knife. "That's when he tased her," Hannum said. "That didn't affect her at all, then they got her with the Mace."
Deputies grabbed the woman by her arms after she dropped the knife outside her car, then handcuffed her, according to Hannum. Once she fell quiet, the deputies realized something was wrong and attempted to resuscitate her, Hannum said.
While the showdown and its aftermath were "just horrible," the deputies "were very professional," Hannum said.
Sheriff Mike Smith would not speculate on whether alcohol or some other substance made the woman act irrationally. Twist was pronounced dead at a Morrilton hospital and her body was sent to the state Crime Lab for an autopsy. State police said Monday that toxicology tests can take weeks.
State records showed that a Regina Twist with the same birthdate and hometown had been a registered dental assistant with permission to take X-rays, polish teeth and administer nitrous oxide. The license lapsed Dec. 31, according to the state Board of Dental Examiners.
Smith said Monday the deputy who deployed the chemical agent and stun gun is on paid administrative leave while state police investigate.
The other deputies who responded were back on duty Monday. Their body camera videos have been handed over to the state police.
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