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AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) -
The GBI is investigating the use of force by Richmond County deputies because a man died after deputies tased him near the Chevron station on Gordon Highway.
The Richmond County Coroner's Office says George Harvey, 39, went into cardiac arrest after he was tased Saturday around 8 p.m.; the Coroner says he was dead 45 minutes later.
Grieving family members visited the house he shared with his mother Saturday afternoon. His sister Alvera Harvey says they're trying to understand what happened.
"We've been told he's gone but it's still not sinking in; still in a state of shock and numbness," she said.
Cheryl Otey was at the convenience store; she saw what happened and started recording video with her cell phone. She didn't want to go on camera but she said Harvey was tased four times.
Alvera Harvey says her brother's death has been especially hard on the family because of how it happened.
"We were told he was tased more than once, possibly more than twice. I don't think it was justified," she said.
GBI officials say at least two deputies tried to take Harvey into custody but they couldn't release why or how many times he was tased.
We searched court records and found from 2001 to 2012 Harvey was convicted of several felonies, such as trafficking cocaine and theft by deception.
He was also scheduled to appear in court 14 times for issues related to child support. His family says he had 12 children.
Harvey's sister says she understands he had some trouble but she doesn't understand how it ended with his death.
"Even though my brother may not have lived the most peaceful life, he didn't deserve to go out like that," she said.
A study published by the American Heart Association found that the shock from a taser can "provoke cardiac arrest" because it creates uncontrolled contractions and an unusually fast heart rate.
A Wake Forest University doctor estimates that the chance of dying after being tased is about 1 in 870.
The Richmond County Sheriff's Office isn't commenting on the investigation.
GBI officials say once they've determined what happened, they will turn their information over to the District Attorney's office and they will decide how to proceed. They say it will be several weeks before their investigation is complete.