After Eric Garner died while being taken into police custody in July, Mayor Bill de Blasio quickly extended his “deepest condolences” to his family and declared that he was “deeply troubled” by the video of the incident. Over the weekend, it emerged that another man, 45-year-old Ron Singleton, died while being taken to the hospital by police just a few days before Garner’s death, but this time the mayor says police did nothing wrong. On Monday, the mayor said Singleton, who was on PCP, was “in a very difficult situation, flailing about and not able to stop and a danger to himself and others.” De Blasio added, “From everything we’ve seen so far, protocol was followed to protect him and protect everyone around him by restraining him.”
Police say they were flagged down by a taxi driver who said Singleton was acting erratically in the back of his car. The officers restrained the 5-foot-7, 210-pound father of four in a body wrap and headed to Bellevue for a psychiatric evaluation, but he went into cardiac arrest before they got there. On Friday, the city’s medical examiner said Singleton’s death was a homicide caused by “physical restraint by police during excited delirium,” as well as severe intoxication, heart disease, and obesity.
Police Commissioner William Bratton told the Post that the medical examiner’s report made the situation sound worse than it was. “The public in general sees the word ‘homicide’ and they immediately conjure up images of a criminal act. It is not that, it is a medical use of the term, different from the legal use of the term,” he said. “Unfortunately as soon as we see ‘homicide,’ everyone assumes that the officer acted inappropriately or even in a criminal fashion. That is not the case.”
Bratton said it appears that Singleton, “through his own actions, precipitated a medical crisis.” Regardless, the NYPD’s Internal Affairs unit will be investigating his death.