Officers Justified in Using Force in Police Custody Death: Prosecutor - NBC Connecticut

Officers Justified in Using Force in Police Custody Death: Prosecutor

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    A Connecticut prosecutor has ruled that New London officers were justified in using force to subdue a medical school graduate who died while in police custody after struggling with officers and showing signs of mental illness.

    New London State's Attorney Michael Regan released his findings Thursday on the death last October of 31-year-old Lashano Gilbert of the Bahamas. He was arrested for attempted carjacking and assault.

    Regan said police used physical force including stun guns to prevent Gilbert from harming himself and several officers. Gilbert died after becoming unresponsive in an ambulance taking him to a hospital from the police station.

    The death was ruled a homicide in February, but authorities at the time said that didn't mean the officers committed any crime.

    The medical examiner said Gilbert's death was caused by complications from a sickle cell disease condition that was aggravated by his struggle with police.

    Lashano Gilbert, 31, who The Associated Press reported was a medical school graduate from the Bahamas, died in October hours after he was arrested as a suspect in a car jacking when police used a stun gun on him twice in an eight-hour period.

    In fall 2014, NAACP and others met with state Office of Policy & Management and Institute for Municipal & Regional Policy officials about stun gun regulations to ask the state to define stun guns "as something other than 'Less Than Lethal Force,'" limit the amount of times a stun gun can be used on a person, banning the use of stun guns on children, pregnant women and elderly individuals and that a physician evaluate anybody who police use a stun gun on, according to the NAACP.

    "The final draft of Connecticut's model policy fails to address these very basic and rudimentary concerns and therefore fall short of the expectations of the NAACP and other civil rights organizations," according to the NAACP.

    The homicide ruling means Gilbert's death was at least in part caused by another person.

    NAACP officials previously said they plan on following the case and working with lawmakers on legislation for criminal justice reform.

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