Seven weeks ago, a 45-year-old Manhattan man named Ron Singleton died in NYPD custody while being transported to the hospital. On Friday evening, the New York City medical examiner’s office ruled Singleton’s death a homicide caused by “physical restraint by police.” Heart disease and obesity were listed as contributing factors.
Here’s what happened, according to the NYPD: On the night of July 13, Singleton, who was on PCP, began “acting overly irate and irrational, cursing and screaming and causing alarm” in the back of a taxi near St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue. The cabbie flagged down a police officer. Singleton then became “combative” and tried to fight the cop. After EMS and more cops arrived, the 5-foot-7, 210-pound father of four was deemed “emotionally disturbed” and placed in a “protective body wrap,” which is like a straitjacket. The police say Singleton wasn’t arrested, but he was put in an ambulance bound for Bellevue. Singleton went into cardiac arrest during the trip and the ambulance was rerouted to Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Singleton’s widow, Lyn Warren Singleton, told the New York Daily News that on the night Ron died, a detective called her and told her to come to Roosevelt. When she got there, a doctor told her that her husband had been handcuffed when he was brought in.”They didn’t pay attention to him when he was crying for help,” she said. “Someone having a heart attack is different signs than someone just bugging out.”
The NYPD’s internal affairs unit is now investigating the incident, as is the Manhattan district attorney’s office. Unsurprisingly, the Daily News reports that “no disciplinary action has been taken against the officers involved in subduing Singleton,” who died just days before Eric Garner met a similar fate.