Man's death following police custody prompts investigation

Dec. 6—TUPELO — Authorities are looking into the Saturday evening death of a man who became unresponsive while in Tupelo police custody.

Tupelo police spokesman Capt. Chuck McDougald said officers responded to the Motel 6 on East Main on Dec. 4 around 7:30 p.m. for a call of man damaging a room. According to information released by the police department, while police were interacting with the man, he became unresponsive. Police began giving medical aid, which was continued by paramedics when they arrived.

The man was transported to the North Mississippi Medical Center emergency room where he later died.

“We are still in the early stages of this investigation, and our understanding of the incident may change as additional evidence is collected, analyzed and reviewed,” McDougald said. “We do not draw final conclusions until all the facts are known and our investigation is complete.”

TPD officials say body camera footage show officers arriving at 7:41 p.m. The motel manager was trying to open the door. The man could be seen through the window laying on the floor, blocking the door.

After backup officers arrived and were given permission, officers broke into the room, There was a brief struggle with the man, who was kicked at the officers as they placed handcuffs on the still prone man.

At 7:50 p.m., the officers tried to put the man in the back of a police car, but he was uncooperative. He ended up being placed in the car laying on his back in the back seat.

Police say the man lost consciousness about five minutes after being placed in the car. Officers pulled the man out, laid him on the ground and administered a dose of Narcan, a drug to counteract a narcotic overdose and begin chest compressions. Tupelo firefighters arrived and assisted. A second dose of Narcan was administered before EMS arrived at 8:10 p.m. and carried the man to the hospital.

Around 10 p.m., police were notified that the man had died. Tupelo police asked the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation to review the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident.

“We will be cooperating with MBI in their investigation as we conduct our own internal review,” McDougald said.

He said the only force used against the man was to restrain him to place him in handcuffs. No holds or tactics were used on him or around his head or neck.

TPD officials have pledged to remain transparent as the investigation continues.

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