In July, the death of Eric Garner made national news; Ronald Singleton's did not. Just four days before Garner was killed by New York City police officers after being placed in a chokehold, Singleton died while in the custody of NYPD officers. On Friday, New York's medical examiner ruled Ronald Singleton's death a homicide, a move that will no doubt spark more tension in the wake of the deaths of Garner and Ferguson, Missouri's Michael Brown.
The office of New York's medical examiner said in a statement that Singleton, a 45-year-old African-American man, was killed by "physical restraint by police during excited delirium due to acute phencyclidine (PCP) intoxication." According to CNN, the medical examiner added that there were other contributing factors in Singleton's death, such as obesity and cardiovascular disease. His death is still under investigation by the city's district attorney's office.
Singleton died just after midnight on July 13. According to The New York Times, he was riding in a taxi cab when the driver asked for help from an NYPD officer near St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. Singleton was reportedly cursing and screaming at the driver, and tried attacking the police officer once he left the vehicle. Authorities said backup was called, and Singleton was placed in a "protective body wrap."
Singleton was not placed under arrest, but was transported in an ambulance and taken away by personnel. Then, he went into cardiac arrest, and was pronounced when he arrived at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital.
Although Singleton's death has officially been ruled a homicide, no police officers received disciplinary action for his death. However, the NYPD is cooperating with the district attorney's office, as the investigation is ongoing.
This is the second death of a person in NYPD custody to be ruled a homicide over the last month. The death of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old father of six and Staten Island resident, was declared a homicide in early August, following weeks of protests and public outrage. Garner was allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes at an intersection in Staten Island's Tompkinsville neighborhood on July 17 when approached by police officers. He was wrestled to the sidewalk and placed in a chokehold, reportedly saying, "I can't breathe," multiple times, according to eyewitness accounts.
Although Garner's weight, chronic asthma and cardiovascular disease were listed as contributing factors, the New York City medical examiner office concluded he died from compression of the neck. Two officers responsible have received disciplinary action, and the case is slated to appear before a grand jury.
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