Denver release bodycam of Jesse Stowers, who died in police custody from a possible overdose

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A man who died in Denver police custody may have experienced a drug overdose shortly after he was arrested for violating a restraining order, according to body camera footage released Thursday.

Denver Police Department officials discussed details of the Nov. 26 incident during a news conference at police headquarters Thursday.

Officers responded to Fusion Studios at 3737 Quebec St. at 9:20 a.m. on reports from a pretrial services employee that Jesse Stowers, 43, was in the area and had tampered with his ankle monitor.

Stowers had a court order barring him from the apartment complex, and officers found his ankle monitor in an alleyway outside, Cmdr. Matt Clark said at the news conference Thursday.

Body camera footage shows police forced open a bathroom door where it appeared Stowers was flushing drugs down the toilet or sink, according to body camera footage and Clark.

Officers arrested Stowers and walked him outside, repeatedly asking him if he had used drugs. Stowers was also examined by paramedics before he was transported to the jail, Clark said.

While Stowers was in the back of a police car being transported, he began having a medical event, Clark said.

Body camera footage shows officers removed Stowers from the vehicle near 29th and Champa streets, and he leaned against an officer and then a police car while he appeared to be shaking and struggling to breathe.

Officers repeatedly asked him what he took so they could get him medical help, but he did not respond, according to the footage.

The officers lowered him to the ground and administered naloxone, which is used to treat opioid overdoses, which did not appear to have an impact, Clark said. Stowers stopped breathing, and officers removed his handcuffs and started CPR.

He was transported to the hospital and pronounced dead later that day, Clark said.

The Denver Office of the Medical Examiner is investigating the cause and nature of Stowers’ death, but preliminary information shows narcotics may have been a factor, Clark said. Toxicology reports are still pending in the case.

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