FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) — A 19-year-old died shortly after being taken into custody by the Florence Police Department (FPD) after suffering what authorities say was a “medical episode.”
The unnamed teen was taken into custody around 10 p.m. Saturday night after officers responded to a call for a disorderly person on Court Street in downtown Florence.
Officers found the 19-year-old in the middle of Court Street and eventually arrested him. He was taken to the Lauderdale County Detention Center, less than a mile away, said Chief Ron Tyler.
During the booking process, Tyler said the teen started having a “medical episode of some type,” according to officers and jail staff. An ambulance was called, but the teen was being “physically uncooperative,” making it difficult for EMS staff to provide care.
He was then taken by police car from the detention center to the North Alabama Medical Center for treatment, where he was pronounced dead at 1:30 a.m.
The timeline, according to Chief Tyler, the initial call came in at 9:50 p.m. The teen was arrested shortly after, he said. The ambulance was called at 10:35 p.m., and the teen was at the ER with officers by 11:06 p.m.
Escorted by officers, Tyler explained that the teen walked into the ER on his own, where his “uncooperative behavior continued.”
Despite medical treatment, the hospital said the 19-year-old died around 1:30 Sunday morning, three and a half hours after FPD’s initial contact. Tyler added that he was at the emergency room within one hour of his arrest.
“This was a medical event,” said Chief Tyler. “Based on my own review, it is my belief that the original, triggering event occurred prior to officers’ initial contact with the subject. Then, while in our custody, the [individual’s] physical well-being began to deteriorate. At that point, medical attention was summoned. No harm occurred to the individual while he was under our control and in our care.”
Tyler said the department has requested the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) to conduct a formal death investigation, saying they will “ultimately…determine the scope of the investigation.”
The Chief added that FPD will “fully cooperate and make all persons and evidence available to them while they complete their investigation.”