INWOOD, N.Y. – Police officers responding to a report of a disturbance at a Long Island home early Saturday used stun guns to try to subdue a man they discovered naked and covered in blood inside his apartment, but he stopped breathing and later died, officials said.
Authorities were called to the home in Nassau County at about 2:30 a.m. after neighbors reported an intoxicated man screaming in the basement apartment. Police said they found 36-year-old Walter Perez pacing the basement, naked and bloody. It wasn't clear whether it was his own blood, though no one else was reported injured at the home.
Nassau County police spokesman Detective Lt. Richard Lebrun said officers tried repeatedly to calm Perez down and get him to an ambulance so he could be evaluated at a hospital, but he resisted repeatedly. He said Perez threatened the officers with a "dangerous instrument," but Lebrun didn't specify what it was. He said officers tried again and again to de-escalate the situation. One officer fired a stun gun which struck Perez in the torso, but didn't subdue him. A second officer also fired a stun gun that had no effect, Lebrun said. Officers were eventually able to handcuff Perez, but then he stopped breathing.
Lebrun said police removed the handcuffs and tried to revive him. He was transported to a hospital where he later died. Five police officers who responded were tested for exposure to blood, feces and other bodily fluids, Lebrun said.
"This is an extremely unfortunate circumstance, not only for ... Perez but also our five police officers who responded," Lebrun said in statement. "Our officers take an oath and that is to protect lives and property," and their goal had been to try to transport Perez to the hospital for an evaluation.
A medical examiner will determine a cause of death, and perform toxicology tests. Perez had no history of drug or alcohol-related arrests on Long Island, police said.
The state attorney general has opened an investigation into the death, because it occurred during a confrontation with police, Newsday reported. Acting Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder told the newspaper in an email that his officers followed proper procedures.