NEW YORK (Reuters) - The death of a man who was restrained by police during a drug-fueled outburst was ruled a homicide by the city’s medical examiner, New York police said, as the department faces accusations of overly harsh arrest tactics.
Ronald Singleton had taken the illegal narcotic PCP, also known as angel dust, police said.
He was “overly irate and irrational, cursing and screaming” in the back of a taxi on July 13 and then attempted to fight a police officer whom the driver had alerted for help, the New York Police Department said in statement on Friday.
The 45-year-old was “restrained and placed in a protective body wrap”. Singleton, who was not arrested, went into cardiac arrest in an ambulance and was pronounced dead at hospital.
He died from “physical restraint by police during excited delirium” due to the PCP, and also from heart disease and obesity, the New York City medical examiner announced on Friday, according to the police statement.
His death came four days before that of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old man suspected of peddling loose untaxed cigarettes on a Staten Island sidewalk who police put in a choke hold as they arrested him.
The incident has become part of a wider national debate about how American police use force, particularly on citizens who are not white. Earlier this month residents in Missouri took to the streets to protest against the shooting by police of an unarmed black teenager.
A New York City prosecutor on Aug. 19 said he would present evidence to a grand jury next month to determine whether anyone should be criminally charged in Garner’s death.
Police officers have not faced disciplinary measures over Singleton’s death, which is being investigated by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. The police department said it would cooperate with the investigation.
Reporting by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky