NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The medical examiner’s office has ruled the death of a suspected shoplifter during a physical altercation at a Brooklyn supermarket as a homicide.

New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said 51-year-old Ralph Nimmons’ went into sudden cardiac arrest in April after being restrained and kept in a prone position.

The medical examiner’s office said Nimmons had been suffering from hypertensive cardiovascular disease.

Authorities say Nimmons was accused of stealing from the Stop & Shop store in Flatbush and collapsed after employees subdued him.

He was unconscious and unresponsive when police arrived.

Witnesses described the scene to CBS2 in April.

“He was just saying, ‘Let me go, let me go, let me go,’” said one woman. “But then when he was on the ground, he said that he couldn’t breathe and he had a heart problem.”

“I saw this guy laying on the floor, and there was a man over him – sitting over him,” said another witness.

Another customer told CBS2 a female bystander stepped in and offered to pay.

“She asked, ‘What’s going on? What happened? He stole something?’ He’s like, ‘I didn’t do nothing.’ And she pulled out her money to pay for whatever they said he stole, but they wouldn’t take her money. So they wrestled him and he didn’t want – he wasn’t trying to be held, he was trying to get out,” said Jacene McDonald.

Nimmons’ death led to protests and boycotts at the store.

Stop & Shop responded to the homicide ruling.

“We remain saddened by the unfortunate event that took place at our Flatbush store on April 14, 2018 and are continuing to cooperate fully with law enforcement,” said company spokesperson Jennifer Brogan. “Now that the Medical Examiner’s report is complete, we await the outcome of the District Attorney’s ongoing investigation.”

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)