Sunday, December 7, 2003

Suspect dies after Dayton officers struggle with him

The Associated Press

DAYTON, Ohio - A man died hours after struggling with four Dayton police officers on Friday, but his cause of death hasn't been determined, authorities said.

An autopsy was done on Kirkland Smith, 44, of suburban Trotwood, but results weren't ready Saturday, said Wade Lawson, an investigator with the Montgomery County coroner's office.

Smith died 8:30 p.m. Friday at Miami Valley Hospital, where paramedics had brought him 31/2 hours earlier, police said.

The uniformed officers' names weren't released. Lt. John Bardun says they will remain on duty, except for one who will take sick leave for a few days because Smith's elbow struck his eye socket.

Officers responded to several calls late Friday afternoon about a man staggering down a city street, including reports of him trying to break into a house and a car, Bardun said. They found Smith on a porch, and a struggle started when they tried to handcuff him.

After Smith's elbow struck an officer during the scuffle, officers put a plastic restraint around his ankles to stop him from kicking. At one point Smith was facedown, and officers noticed he had stopped breathing when they turned him over, Bardun said.

The officers started CPR, and Bardun said hospital workers said he started breathing again and had a strong pulse in the emergency room.

Both internal affairs and homicide officers are investigating, he said.

Last Sunday, 41-year-old Nathaniel Jones died in custody of Cincinnati police following a struggle in a fast-food parking lot. Officers used chemical spray and nightsticks on Jones after he lunged at an officer. The death was ruled a homicide by the coroner.

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