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Second man dies while being restrained by Metro officers

During news conference, police say both men had underlying medical conditions

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Katharine Euphrat

Metro Police Capt. Randy Montandon discusses two recent cases Thursday afternoon in which men died while in the custody of Metro officers.

Updated Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009 | 7 p.m.

Two Die After Struggles with Officers

Metro Police Capt. Randy Montandon discusses two recent cases Thursday afternoon in which men died while in the custody of Metro officers.

A man died in the custody of Metro Police Wednesday night after a struggle with officers at a home in the southwest Las Vegas Valley, police said today. It's the second time in four days a man has died as he was being restrained by Metro officers.

Eight officers and a sergeant have been placed on paid administrative leave, Metro Capt. Randy Montandon said at a news conference this afternoon. Four officers and a sergeant were involved in the first incident on Sunday, and four officers were involved in the second incident on Wednesday.

Both men who died after struggles with officers had underlying medical conditions and were overweight, Montandon said.

In the most recent case, authorities received a call Wednesday night from a social worker requesting police assistance to a residence in the 7700 block of Scoby Court. Police said the social worker told dispatchers that a client, who was under state supervision, wasn't in compliance with his prescribed medication and was behaving erratically.

When officers arrived at the home, the social worker advised police that the man had taken numerous unknown medications throughout the day and had possibly turned on gas valves inside the home, police said. After speaking to the man for more than an hour and witnessing the erratic behavior, police said, officers tried to take the man into custody for transport to a medical facility.

During the struggle, one of the officers applied a lateral vascular neck restraint to subdue the man, police said.

It took several pairs of handcuffs to restrain the man, who was not breathing at the end of the struggle, Montandon said. The man was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The man, who has not been identified because his family has not been contacted, was described as in his 30s and weighing more than 300 pounds, Montandon said.

In a separate case, police announced Thursday morning that a man who was combative with officers died Sunday evening as emergency crews were trying to subdue him.

Altercation

In that incident, officers responded at 6:22 p.m. Sunday to the 500 block of North 14th Street regarding a report of a fight involving two roommates, one of whom reportedly was armed with a knife, police said. One of the men, Daniel Morantes, 47, became combative with officers and displayed erratic behavior by screaming and yelling, police said.

Officers worked to subdue Morantes and called for medical response as a result of his behavior. Montandon described the officer's hold on him as a "bear hug."

The man stopped breathing after paramedics arrived and was pronounced dead a short time later at Sunrise Medical Center.

Homicide detectives are investigating the incident. Police said there were no signs as to the cause of death either from the fight that originated the call or from officers taking Morantes into custody.

Montandon said that Metro's homicide section and the Clark County Coroner's Office are doing separate investigations into the deaths of both men. Asked whether Metro should bring in an outside, independent agency to investigate the circumstances of the deaths, Montandon said it wasn't necessary.

A Clark County Coroner's Office spokeswoman said neither man had been identified and that toxicology and other test results had not been completed.

Sun reporters Tim Richardson and Amanda Finnegan contributed to this report.

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