19-year-old suspect dies in custody after swallowing drugs, Houston police say

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Thursday, June 17, 2021
19-year-old dies in police custody after swallowing drugs, HPD says
Officers got into a struggle with the man and tased him before they were able to get him inside a police car. After telling them he'd swallowed drugs, police called an ambulance.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A 19-year-old involved in a drug investigation died Wednesday while in custody after telling officers he'd swallowed drugs prior to his arrest, authorities said.

Officers attempted to stop a vehicle on Westward Street around 7 p.m. during a narcotics investigation when the man bailed from the vehicle and ran, according to Houston police.

During a foot chase, officers tased the man but continued to struggle before gaining control of him, police said. Once they were able to get the man inside a police cruiser, he told officers that he'd swallowed drugs.

"Officers contacted the Houston Fire Department, who came out here immediately," said HPD Assistant Chief Chandra Hatcher. "During this time, the suspect displayed no signs of distress. He was talking to the officers and sitting in the back seat of the patrol vehicle."

The man was transported to a hospital by ambulance and went into cardiac arrest while en route, HPD said. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

During the struggle, an officer was also struck by a taser dart and suffered minor injuries.

It wasn't immediately clear what the suspect managed to swallow. A cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner.