• Man dies during altercation with West Melbourne officers at Publix, police say

    By: Monique Valdes , Angela Jacobs , Sarahbeth Ackerman

    Updated:

    WEST MELBOURNE, Fla. - A death investigation is underway after a 46-year-old man died during an altercation with police inside a Publix, according to the West Melbourne Police Department. 

    Police were called to the Publix on West New Haven Avenue at about 10:40 a.m. Monday for a report of a man acting “erratically,” police said.  

    They asked the man to leave, and he did, but he returned to the store again, police said. 

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    Police said the man was being uncooperative and a physical altercation ensued. Cellphone video from a witness showed police deploying a Taser on the man and taking him down. 

    An officer can be seen on top of the man as he tells him to relax. 

    About a minute and 27 seconds into the video, the man appears to lose consciousness. 

    Man dies after confrontation with West Melbourne police
    © 2018 Cox Media Group.
    Man dies after confrontation with West Melbourne police
    © 2018 Cox Media Group.

    The video goes on as officers begin CPR.

    “You know, sometimes people have medical problems and they act out because of that. So, it’s hard to say what happened to the gentleman,” said shopper Katy Stapor. 

    The unidentified man was taken to a hospital, where he died.

    Law enforcement expert Chuck Drago said a tactical hold that one of the officers used -- placing his arm across the upper-chest of the man -- is considered safe, but it must be done with expertise.

    "The person is fighting," Drago said. "It's very difficult sometimes to keep hold of that proper restraint, and you can see here his arm slides across his Adam's Apple as he's got him down on the ground. It's across his throat as he's trying to control him."

    Drago said it's not possible to tell from the video alone if the man was choked or if his breathing was impeded from lying on his stomach.

    It's also unknown if the man was on medication or if he had a medical condition that might have compounded his reaction to being shocked by the Taser, he said.

    Drago said an autopsy will reveal how and why the man died.

    "You end up with all those key activities that police officers can be involved in happening on this one person," he said.

    The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating and two officers were placed on leave. 

    No other details were released. 

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