Officers in North Carolina arrested a man behaving “erratically” in the street after he lunged at one of them, according to police.
But within a minute, they said, he wasn’t breathing.
The man — who has not been identified while police notify his family — died in custody, authorities said in a statement Thursday.
“We don’t know why he passed away,” Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins said during a press conference.
Police responded to two separate calls around 12:23 a.m. Thursday about “an odd gentleman” going house to house trying to get inside and “causing a disturbance,” Hawkins said.
She said the four responding officers found the man in the middle of the road on another street, where a sheriff deputy’s vehicle and several other cars were sitting.
“As we arrived — and I’m sharing with you not just a press release, I personally reviewed the video — the gentleman was acting in erratic behavior,” she said. “He was not totally clothed. He was jumping on top off the deputy’s car. He was making odd sounds, and it was not typical behavior.”
The officers reportedly asked the man if he needed medical attention, at which point Hawkins said he lunged at one of them.
“The gentleman was quickly taken to the ground, handcuffed within 30 seconds,” she said. “Within a minute, the officers realized his breathing had changed. They unhandcuffed him and began rescue CPR on this gentleman.”
Police continued CPR until the paramedics took over, Hawkins said, administering two different naloxone drugs — used to treat narcotics overdoses — in the process.
Medical personnel declared him dead some time after, according to the press release. But Hawkins said the medical examiner will have to determine the exact time of death.
“At no time” was he in a police vehicle, she said.
Police followed training when they asked if he needed medical attention, she said, and no other use of force like Tasers or pepper spray was deployed.
The officers have been placed on administrative leave pending a joint investigation with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, according to Hawkins.
“You have to understand, that’s a tragic incident to be first witnessing someone that you’re having to administer CPR to,” she said. “So it’s part of my practice — part of the policy — that they go on administrative leave, especially while we allow them to decompress and allow the investigation to continue.”