Local News

Report: Suspect Who Died In Police Custody Was Hit, Pepper Sprayed

Posted May 19, 2005

— Raleigh police say they were forced to use pepper spray and hit a man who later died in police custody last week.

An internal report on the death of Batrane Jermal Hedgepeth said that Hedgepeth repeatedly tried to reach for a pocket, which police later discovered contained a knife.

On May 11, officers who were trying to arrest Hedgepeth on an previous warrant repeatedly ordered him to keep his hand away from his pocket. But Hedgepeth would not comply, the report said, and officers grabbed him, which lead to a fight, with Hedgepeth ending up on the ground. Hedgepeth was also sprayed with pepper spray during the incident, police said.

As officers continued to wrestle with Hedgepeth, the report said "at least two officers did strike Mr. Hedgepeth's arms and legs in an effort to get him under control but to no avail."

During the struggle, officers reported that Hedgepeth showed "incredible strength as he fought with the officers, actually lifting them off of the ground."

Officers discovered that Hedgepeth was holding a set of keys in his hand. They found a pocketknife in his pocket after he was handcuffed, according to the report, which was made by Police Chief Jane Perlov to Raleigh City Manager J. Russell Allen.

Police Report About The Death Of Batrane Jermal Hedgepeth

At that point, the police report said, Hedgepeth began to vomit and police rolled him on his side. The police report said that leg restraints were cut and officers began chest compressions. The report did not say if Hedgepeth's heart stopped beating.

Emergency medical services were requested and officers continued to clear the suspect's airway and provide CPR until EMS arrived and took over.

Hedgepeth was transported to WakeMed, where he was pronounced dead at 11:12 p.m, police said.

The Office of the State Medical Examiner conducted an examination and will complete an autopsy report after receiving results from toxicology tests.

The police report said that witnesses saw blood stains on Hedgepeth's clothing prior to officers attempting the arrest. Medical personnel confirmed that there were very small puncture wounds on Hedgepeth's abdomen that did not contribute to his death. A bloody knife was seized from Hedgepeth's kitchen.

The incident began around 10 p.m. when Officer R.J. Bush went to 3021 Taybran Lane to serve an arrest warrant on Hedgepeth for failing to appear in court for a citation for public consumption of alcohol.

The State Bureau of Investigation is conducting the criminal investigation of the in-custody death, which will be reviewed by the district attorney. The Internal Affairs Unit is conducting the administrative investigation that will be reviewed by the police department.

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