Phoenix police release video showing events leading to death of man in interrogation room

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Phoenix police released a "critical incident video" on Thursday detailing the Nov. 30 in-custody death of a man arrested on suspicion of armed kidnapping a day prior.

Sgt. Rob Scherer, a department spokesman, said officers arrested 58-year-old Benjamin Austin near 12th Way and Roeser Road after a girl accused him of kidnapping her in October. Body-worn camera footage shows an officer handcuffing Austin while another explains the reason for the arrest.

On the way to police headquarters, Austin complained his handcuffs were too tight, Scherer said. The video shows officers adding a second set of handcuffs to loosen them.

Once placed in an interrogation room, Phoenix police footage shows Austin breathing heavily and slumping against a wall while alone. Scherer said a detective entered the room 38 minutes after Austin was placed there and found Austin unresponsive.

Footage shows a detective approaching Austin and saying, "Hey bud, wake up, bro," while nudging him with his leg. The detective appears to examine Austin more closely and realizes the condition he's in, the footage shows. The detective pulls Austin from the seat and tells someone off-camera to call the fire department as the detective begins to perform CPR.

Scherer said officers continued to provide medical aid until Austin was taken to a hospital. Scherer said officers later found roughly eight blue pills underneath the chair Austin was sitting on. Scherer did not identify what the pills were.

Scherer said Austin died at the hospital on Nov. 30, but did not say whether the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office had determined a cause of death.

Scherer said the department would conduct a criminal and administrative investigation into the in-custody death, as is standard protocol.

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