NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton says it appears officers behaved appropriately in the custody death of a drugged-out man.
Ronald Singleton’s death was ruled a homicide on Friday, and “physical restrain by police” was deemed a factor, along with severe intoxication from the hallucinogenic drug PCP. Police said the 45-year-old was acting erratically in a taxi July 13 when officers responding to a 911 call restrained him, placing him in a protective body wrap.
Singleton, who was not under arrest, went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance and was pronounced dead at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center.
Bratton said Monday it appears the officers behaved appropriately. He stressed that the term “homicide” is a medical definition and doesn’t mean an officer did something wrong. He said the officers were trying to protect Singleton from hurting himself and others.
The district attorney’s office is investigating. The Police Department will then do a probe.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called it a “tragic incident that obviously was related to the drug use.”
“We have a lot of indiciation that he was in a very difficult situation, flailing about and not able to stop and a danger to himself and others,” de Blasio said Monday. “And from everything we’ve seen so far, the protocol was followed to protect him and protect everyone around him by restraining him. Obviously, his other medical circumstances and the drug use then played a role in his demise.”
Singleton’s wife, Lyn Singleton, said 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,” she 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 dismissed claims he was irate and irrational at the scene.
“There were signs that medically there was something wrong,” she said.
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association 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.”
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