NYPD Boss, Union Defends Response in Custody Death

NEW YORK (AP) -

New York Police Chief William Bratton said officers behaved appropriately in the custody death of a man incapacitated by drugs.

Ronald Singleton’s death on July 13 was ruled a homicide Friday. The medical examiner’s office says “physical restraint by police” was a factor, along with severe intoxication from a drug.

Police say Singleton was acting erratically in a taxi when officers placed him in a protective body wrap. Bratton on Monday stressed the term “homicide” is a medical definition and doesn’t mean an officer did something wrong. He says the officers were trying to protect Singleton from hurting himself and others.

Prosecutors are investigating. The police department will then do an investigation.

The head of a powerful police union said Saturday that officers shouldn’t be held responsible since it was the drug that placed Singleton’s life in jeopardy.

“The drug puts the abuser in an extremely agitated state while boosting the person’s strength to abnormal levels,” Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said. “Our members follow department protocols designed to best insure the safety of the drug abuser and of the police officers who are attempting to get the individual the necessary medical aid.”