NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association has come to the defense of NYPD officers who restrained a drugged, emotionally disturbed man near St. Patrick’s Cathedral after his death was ruled a homicide on Friday.
An investigation has begun into the death of 45-year-old Ronald Singleton, who police said was high on PCP when he was restrained in a “protective body wrap” by officers in order to be transported to a hospital, 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported.
Singleton, who was not under arrest, went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance and was pronounced dead at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center.
PBA President Patrick Lynch said on Saturday that Singleton’s use of PCP alone put his life in jeopardy and that the drug puts abusers in an “extremely agitated state” while simultaneously boosting the user’s strength to “abnormal levels.”
“Our members follow department protocols designed to best insure the safety of the drug abuser and of the police officers who are attempting to get the individual the necessary medical aid,” Lynch said in a statement. “The responsibility for the outcome lies entirely with the drug abuser not the police officers attempting to remove him as a danger to the public and himself.”
Singleton’s wife, Lyn Singleton, says her husband, who is reported to have had a lengthy criminal record, always panicked around police.
“You would think NYPD here to protect us never thought they would be a contribution to my husband’s death,” Singleton’s wife told CBS 2’s Steve Langford. “I have to learn how to be a single parent.”
She said her husband needed help, not restraint by police and officers and dismisses claims he was irate and irrational at the scene.
“There were signs that medically there was something wrong,” she said.
When Langford asked if Ron needed to be restrained in any way, Lyn responded, “I don’t think so, my husband, he’s not an erratic person, not at all.”
“I think NYPD and excessive force, that they need to be looked into a whole lot because a lot of innocent people are dying for no reason,” Singleton said.
Shortly after midnight on July 13, a uniformed officer was on foot patrol assigned to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, at 51st Street and Fifth Avenue when police said he was approached by a yellow cab driver, who claimed to have a man in his back seat who was acting “overly irate and irrational, cursing and screaming and causing alarm.”
When the man — identified as Singleton — got out of the taxi, he became combative with the officer on the scene and tried to fight with him, police said.
That’s when officers restrained Singleton in the protective body wrap and put him in an ambulance.
The New York City Medical Examiner’s office has ruled Singleton’s death a homicide caused by his being restrained by police while in a delirious state caused by PCP. The Medical Examiner said Singleton’s “exciting delirium” was due to “acute phencyclidine intoxication.”
Heart disease and obesity were considered contributing conditions, police said.
So far, there has been no finding of criminality in the case and the officers involved have not been disciplined, Stern reported.
Police said Friday that they will continue to cooperate with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, which will be the lead investigating agency in the case.
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