Suspect's Death In OKC Police Custody Ruled Homicide
OKLAHOMA CITY – The state medical examiner's office has ruled the death of a man who died while being arrested by Oklahoma City police as a homicide, according to spokesperson Cherokee Ballard.
Police took 31-year-old Damon Lamont Falls into custody after responding to a call about a disturbance at a Dollar General on the city's southeast side in July. Officers found Falls wearing a wig, a fake moustache and beard, a ball cap and sunglasses. He also dropped a stun gun and ran from police. According to a police report, during their struggle to get Falls into custody, police used a taser on him, but he then continued to struggle with officers after he was shocked.
Oklahoma City Police Sgt. Gary Knight said that as officers were trying to walk Falls back to a police car, he collapsed. Falls was taken by paramedics to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
According to the medical examiner's report, the probable cause of Falls' death is listed as cardiac arrhythmia due to stress and attempt to escape/resist arrest. A toxicology note shows Falls was on meth.
" believe in this case the doctor felt the combination of drugs and the stress on his heart, which also shows he had an enlarged heart...that the combination contributed to his death," said Ballard.
The report further shows he had eight visible pairs of acute electro thermal injury on the back, which means he was tased about four times.
The six officers who were involved in the incident, 27–year-old Jacob Cole (four year veteran), 34-year-old Aaron Wake (four year veteran), 27-year-old Zachary Miller (four year veteran), 28-year-old Ramon Castro (one year veteran), 30-year-old Daniel Herring (one year veteran) and 23-year-old Tyler Duncan (one year veteran), were all placed on routine administrative leave pending the investigation.
"The investigation has been completed for some time but we were waiting for some reports to be finalized and approved and waiting on the medical examiner's report," said Oklahoma City Police Capt. Patrick Stewart.
But it didn't have the results they were expecting. OKCPD questions why the medical examiner has ruled Falls' death a homicide.
"We are going to have some meetings with the medical examiner's personnel. The chief of police has set those up because we have some questions concerning the medical examiner's report," said Capt. Stewart.
Member of Falls' family said the officers involved used too much force. The family refused an on camera interview with News 9 because they are pursuing legal action against the Oklahoma City Police Department. The case will go to the D.A. to decide whether or not to pursue criminal charges against the officers.
Falls does have a criminal record. He was convicted of three robberies in 1998, convicted of another robbery in 2000, convicted of robbery again in 2002 and again in 2004. He was also arrested earlier this year for Possession of CDS and Possession of a Firearm AFCF and was scheduled to be back in court in late July 2010 on the charges.