Suspect May Have Ingested Drugs,
Causing Heart Attack, Chief Says
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Oneonta Police and Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl are investigating a death in police custody last evening, after a man arrested on narcotics-trafficking charges swallowed what might have been cocaine, according to Police Chief Douglas Brenner.
To Brenner’s knowledge, this is the first time a suspect has died in OPD custody.
Kenneth J. Faulkner, 52, New Rochelle, was arrested on a warrant at about 5 p.m. at 85 Ford Ave., and taken to the city’s Public Safety Building, Brenner said. About 5:35 p.m., a second warrant was served at the building, allowing “a body search. “
“He was on the threshold of the door of the holding cell, and in three seconds he had managed to close the door and get the drugs into his mouth,” Brenner said in a interview this afternoon. “The officer opened the door and tried to get him to spit out the drugs.”
Other officers were called in to bring Faulkner to the ground and handcuff him, but it was quickly discovered that Faulkner has swallowed whatever was in his mouth, and an ambulance was called. “He had a seizure and went into cardiac arrest,” said Brenner. “It is, to my knowledge, the first death we’ve had in our custody.”
Though the investigation is ongoing, Brenner said he believes protocol was followed. An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow, including a toxicology screening. “It’s quite possible that there were other medical complications,” he said.
He does, however, intend to look into how the strip-search policy can be changed to prevent such issues in the future. “We’re going to look into doing something with the door,” he added.
“This is unfortunate,” he added. “This is not how the justice system is supposed to work.”