LOS ANGELES — Adult performer Sledge Hammer died early Friday morning at the age of 39, director Stoney Curtis, his close friend of 20 years, confirmed to XBIZ.
Sledge Hammer, whose legal name was Marland Anderson, had been in a coma since Monday morning after an altercation with police on Sunday night that resulted in him being shot with a Taser gun, Curtis said.
According to Curtis, Anderson had been dealing with various forms of depression during the last several years, and his marijuana use made the depression worse.
“It turned out he genetically had a mild form of schizophrenia, and it wasn’t a problem until he started smoking pot and taking various things for depression,” Curtis explained. “It got worse and he would have thoughts of extreme paranoia and anxiety.”
On Sunday night at his apartment in Reseda, Anderson suffered a severe anxiety attack and his girlfriend, adult performer Alexa Cruz, called 911 to prevent him from harming himself.
“She felt as though he was mentally unstable,” Curtis said. “She was requesting an ambulance to come get him, but the police showed up with an ambulance and the police walked him down to the ambulance.”
Cruz, who lived with Anderson for more than a year and had been dating him for over two years, said that he was “peaceful” and “cooperative” when the police arrived.
“He didn’t fight them at all,” Cruz told XBIZ in an exclusive interview on Friday night. “He put his hands up above his head and kept telling them he was tired. He was scared. He was delusional. He’s not a violent guy. He needed to be sedated.
“I thought they would take him to a 72-hour psychiatric hold in the hospital. I made it clear to the police that he didn’t do anything to me.”
According to the information Curtis received, Anderson did not want to be inside the ambulance and his anxiety worsened, so the EMTs let him out and called the police back to the residence.
“The police came and instead of trying to talk to him or grab him and get him to the ground, or the paramedics giving him a sedative, they decided to break out their tasers and just tasered him excessively until the point where he went into cardiac arrest,” Curtis said. “After he went into cardiac arrest, they rushed him to the hospital and revived him. But they estimated that his heart had stopped beating for 10 minutes. They got his heart beating again and put him on a respirator, but he had massive swelling in the brain from the loss of oxygen.”
Anderson fought for his life all week, Curtis said, but doctors told Anderson’s mother that he likely would never come out of the coma and if he did, he would not regain cognitive functions. So Anderson’s mother decided to take him off the respirator Thursday night.
“The family felt as though he was never going to be the same and never going to wake up, so the mother made the decision to pull the respirator, it was her call,” Curtis continued. “He passed away at 5 o’clock in the morning at Northridge Hospital.”
Anderson, who was born in Seattle, performed in more than 800 porn movies since 1995, but no one knew him and his work better than Curtis, who made him a star with his numerous scenes for Celestial Productions and then Lethal Hardcore.
“You won’t find too many people that would have a bad thing to say about Marland. He was a very warm-hearted, funny guy who loved his comic books, loved heavy metal, and was very respectful to every girl he ever worked with,” Curtis said. “And I think most of the guys that worked with him would say the same.”
Curtis met Anderson at the Pizza Hut where Anderson worked not long after graduating from high school in Mission Viejo, Calif.
“He didn’t have much confidence in himself, but I looked at him and said you should have all the confidence in the world in yourself,” Curtis recalled. “The guy was built like a brick-house. I wasn’t even in porno yet and the two of us knew each other. I’m probably his oldest friend and I just feel horrible.”
Curtis said he is in the process of initiating a full-scale investigation into the incident that caused Anderson to be subdued by police.
“We believe there was excessive force used and investigators and attorneys will be called to get to the bottom of what happened to Marland Anderson,” Curtis said. "Stoney Curtis will see to it that he does not die in vain.
“What I would like to see is a separate number called for people with psychiatric issues where the police are not involved, because the police do not know how to handle someone who is having a mental breakdown. They just break out their clubs and tasers. People shouldn’t be dying just because they are having a mental breakdown.”
He added, “Marlon was not a violent person. He had no police record, none. He had no weapon on him. They were the ones that walked him down to the ambulance. He was already frisked. They knew he wasn’t armed. Why did he get tasered so much. If they wouldn’t have done that, Marland Anderson would still be alive today.”
Cruz said she actually did not know that Anderson had been forcefully subdued and was in a coma until she got to the hospital on Monday afternoon. She was upset that she wasn't informed of Anderson's condition sooner.
“The police didn’t tell me he was in ICU or he’d been tased. I thought he was getting treatment,” Cruz explained. “I thought he was in the 72-hour hold. When I got to the ICU, I asked multiple nurses and they all said he had been tased, that he was over-tased.”
Cruz added, “This man had zero heart problems, worked out, took supplements. He ate extremely healthy. He did smoke marijuana, but he had quit about two weeks ago. He did have a mild form of schizophrenia, or paranoia, and delusions. He was hearing voices.”
She said Anderson also suffered from chronic insomnia and his condition seemed to have taken a turn for the worse during the week leading up to the incident.
“Unfortunately, when he didn’t sleep for a long time he would become delusional,” Cruz said. “But he wouldn’t go to a psychiatrist. All this time, me and all his friends wanted him to get help.”
Cruz and Anderson had planned to move to Nevada and get married before the end of this year, she said.
“We had a great relationship,” said Cruz, 24, a California native who’s been performing on and off for almost five years. “He was my first boyfriend, I met him when I was 21. He was always extremely respectful and helped me a lot. He helped me eat better. He was never judgmental about the job or jealous.
“He needed help, not to be hurt. Just as Stoney Curtis said, what I would like to see happen is instead of having 911, have a separate number for mental illness and suicide attempts. I want people to get help. I don’t want them to go to jail and get tased. I want them to go to the hospital and be placed under the proper care. I really want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
Numerous adult industry personalities paid respects to Anderson on Twitter on Friday afternoon.
Fellow performer Richard Mann said, "R.I.P Sledge Hammer. You were a good brotha to me. U were always happy and nice and respectful to everyone. ... I ask that everyone mention/tweets about Sledge Hammer and then also [retweets] what others post. This was a good brotha.”
Christian XXX tweeted, "RIP Sledgehammer - he was an extremely quiet, sensitive, friendly man. Depression got the better of him. Goodbye my friend."
Performer Sinnamon Love: "This story about Sledge breaks my heart because I watched someone I love very much have a mental breakdown last year."
Mika Tan said, "I'll miss going comic-book shopping & working with your glorious #ChocoCock (pet name)."
Alexander DeVoe: "RIP to Sledge Hammer. I shot him in his early days as a contract performer for [West Coast Productions]. Real nice guy. Tragic way to go out."
Cheyne Collins: "R.I.P. Sledge, you will be missed in our hearts. Tears and love to you."
The Pink Visual Twitter feed said, "RIP Sledge. He was one of the good people in this biz. He will be missed."
Shane Diesel: "Thank u brother for mentoring me, u will be missed, rest in peace."
Jack Lawrence: "I still can't believe that Sledge Hammer is gone, 9 years I have known him, just the nicest guy ever, & so respectful 2 the women in the biz."
Kimberly Kane, Gia Jordan, Prince Yahshua, Seymore Butts, Emy Reyes, Taryn Thomas, Chucky Sleaze, Michael Fattorosi, Cindi Loftus and dozens of others offered their condolences in tweets about the popular performer.