FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Five Fort Worth police officers have been fired and two others have been suspended after a suspect’s pleas for medical help while in custody went unheeded, leading to the man’s death.
A police statement Tuesday says the officers answering the report of a prowler on July 26 arrested an armed man said to have been trying to break into a house.
While en route to the police station, the man began to complain about medical issues, but the officers kept him handcuffed in the back seat of a patrol car without medical aid.
Only when he was later found unresponsive did the officers summon an ambulance, and the man was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. The medical examiner concluded the man died of cocaine intoxication.
According to the Fort Worth Police, on Thursday July 26, 2018 at 9:33 p.m. officers responded to a call reporting a rprowler in the 3300 block of Griggs Ave. The caller reported that an unknown male armed with a gun was attempting to break in to the residence. A man was taken into custody.
After the male was placed in handcuffs, he began to complain of medical issues. He was then placed in the back of a patrol vehicle by the officers but no medical aid was summoned.
Upon completing their investigation, the officers found the man to be unresponsive in the back of the patrol vehicle and began to render medical aid. At this time an ambulance was called and the male was transported to John Peter Smith Hospital where he was pronounced deceased.
The Fort Worth Police Department Major Case Unit and Internal Affairs Unit found that there were multiple violations of departmental policy, including failure to protect the rights of persons in police custody. A preliminary update was given to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office.
“Throughout this process, Chief Fitzgerald and other command staff members have been in regular contact with the family of the deceased. The family has continually requested privacy and we will continue to respect their wishes,” police said in a statement. “Additionally, the actions of the involved officers are still pending a Grand Jury review and that prevents us from providing additional information at this time,” according to the police statement.
From the statement:
The following discipline was applied as a result of our administrative investigation:
• Officer T Stephens #4418 was indefinitely suspended (employment terminated).
• Officer D Pritzker #4383 was indefinitely suspended (employment terminated).
• Officer C Golden #4372 was indefinitely suspended (employment terminated).
• Officer H Fellhauer #4270 was indefinitely suspended (employment terminated).
• Officer M Miller #4520 was indefinitely suspended (employment terminated).
• Officer S Smith #3758 was suspended without pay for 90 days, in lieu of termination. He has forfeited his right to appeal.
• Officer A Scharf # 4415 was suspended for 5 days without pay.