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Officers face no charges after man chokes, dies in custody

June 25, 2019

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Two Arkansas police officers will not face criminal charges after they were placed on paid leave following the death of a man in their custody, a prosecutor said.

An autopsy report revealed that Darrell K. Hays II, 51, died accidentally when his airway became blocked after he was arrested in April during a traffic stop in Fort Smith, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Investigators reviewed video footage that showed Hays putting a bag of meth in his mouth while in the police car, Sebastian County prosecutor Daniel Shue said. While in custody, he began gasping for air until he was taken to a hospital where he later died, officials said.

The autopsy report shows Hays had ingested a possibly lethal amount of meth. Medical staff recovered the small bag he had swallowed after he died.

“Considering the totality of the circumstances and the applicable law, no criminal charges can be brought,” Shue said Monday, clearing the officers of any criminal wrongdoing.

The decision comes a week after Shue declined to file criminal charges after an inmate at the county jail died in March from a rare form of bacterial pneumonia.

The Arkansas State Police investigated both deaths and passed its finding to Shue’s office.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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