Thursday, August 26, 2004

Kenmore man dies after police scuffle

Officers' actions during emergency call investigated

The Associated Press

KENMORE, Ohio - A man who had been screaming in the street died after struggling with Akron police officers trying to handcuff him, police said Wednesday.

Solomon Dandridge, 47, of Kenmore, died early Tuesday. Autopsy results were not complete Wednesday.

Police and prosecutors are investigating whether Dandridge died as a result of four officers' actions or some other cause.

Police said they answered several emergency calls about 5:15 a.m. Tuesday after neighbors reported a man yelling in the street and acting irrationally.

One officer had trouble calming Dandridge, prompting three more officers to join the struggle, said police Capt. Daniel Zampelli. Shortly after, Dandridge lay on the ground, unresponsive.

The officers tried but failed to revive him, and he was pronounced dead at Akron General Medical Center, the coroner's office said.

Dandridge's family said he did not have health or mental problems.

"I want some answers," said Dandridge's son, Jaland Finney, 31. "Being out there in the street yelling isn't cause for death."

Some neighbors said the police acted properly in trying to calm Dandridge and get him cuffed. Others said the officers were too rough.

"He seemed a little out of his mind," said David Ellison, who watched the incident from his porch. "They weren't kicking him or beating him or anything. From what I could see, they were just trying to get the man handcuffed."

Witness Vikki Johnson said she saw one of the officers kick Dandridge in the side in an attempt to get his hands in cuffing position. She said some officers pulled out their batons but didn't use them.

"He was kicking them and fighting with them and waving his hands," she said.

James Belka said the police were too forceful.

"He was already down, and they kept beating on him after he was down," Belka said.

Dandridge, who was about 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds, did not have a weapon.

The names of the four officers involved were not released. Zampelli said they have been placed on paid leave, which is standard procedure during such investigations.

According to police records, Dandridge was charged Aug. 14 with disorderly conduct for walking around the neighborhood screaming and arguing. On June 18, he was charged with resisting arrest and public indecency for running naked on the street.

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