The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Death of Man Restrained by Officers While High on PCP Ruled a Homicide

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | September 1, 2014 2:09pm
 Ronald Singleton, 45, died in an ambulance after being restrained by police in July.
Ronald Singleton, 45, died in an ambulance after being restrained by police in July.
View Full Caption

MANHATTAN — The death of a man who went into cardiac arrest in NYPD custody after being restrained in Midtown was ruled a homicide last week — though union officials said the victim was responsible for his death due to PCP intoxication. 

The medical examiner’s office ruled Friday that the death of Ronald Singleton, 45, was a homicide, noting in a statement that it was caused by the "physical restraint by police during excited delirium" brought on by PCP.

Police said Singleton became irate while riding as a passenger in a cab around midnight on July 13, police said. The cabdriver, who later told police that Singleton was cursing and screaming, stopped the car and got out to ask a police officer who was on foot patrol near St. Patrick’s Cathedral for help, authorities said.

Singleton then became combative and tried to fight with the officer, police said.

After the officer called for assistance, the Emergency Service Unit arrived at the scene and restrained Singleton, placing him in a protective body wrap, officials said.

Singleton, who police did not place under arrest, was to be taken to Bellevue Hospital but went into cardiac arrest while in the ambulance, the NYPD said. He was then redirected to Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The medical examiner also said that heart disease and obesity contributed to Singleton's death.

The incident took place four days before the death of Eric Garner, who police officers had put in what critics said was an illegal chokehold while arresting him for selling cigarettes.

In the case of Singleton, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, which represents police officers, issued a statement Saturday defending the actions of those who handled him.

“[T]he responsibility for the outcome lies entirely with the drug abuser, not the police officers attempting to remove him as a danger to the public and himself,” PBA president Patrick Lynch said.

The statement, posted on the police union’s website, noted that "the drug puts the abuser in an extremely agitated state while boosting the person’s strength to abnormal levels.

“Our members follow department protocols designed to best insure the safety of the drug abuser and of the police officers who are attempting to get the individual the necessary medical aid,” Lynch added.

The NYPD did not immediately respond to an email Monday seeking additional information, but officials said they were cooperating with the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

The Manhattan DA's office did not immediately return a request for comment.