Beijing prosecutors say they will investigate the death in police custody of an environmentalist and new father detained on suspicion of visiting prostitutes.

Lei Yang's family had filed a report with the capital's prosecutors over his death in the capital's northwest suburbs.

Beijing prosecutors said Wednesday that they were investigating five police officers in connection with Lei's death.

According to media reports, Lei was detained on May 7 outside a massage parlor as part of crackdown on prostitution. His family says Lei was on his way to the airport to pick up relatives when he was stopped by the officers.

The case has prompted a huge response in state-run newspapers and on social media sites in China, where police enjoy broad powers to detain suspects and violent treatment is common.