Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said her department is investigating the death of a 28-year-old man who was given an overdose-reversing drug and then was struck in the head by an officer during an alleged struggle in the city’s Logan section on Wednesday.
It is the first death investigation under Outlaw, who took over as commissioner on Monday.
The man apparently had experienced an overdose in the parking lot of a Rite Aid store at 4600 N. Broad St. and was given naloxone by a pharmacist before 35th District officers arrived at the scene about 5:20 p.m., the Police Department said in a statement late Thursday afternoon.
A source familiar with the incident confirmed that a pharmacist administered a naloxone nasal spray to the man. “Upon arrival, the officers observed a crowd of people near a shirtless 28-year-old male, who was lying on the ground between two parked cars,” the department said.
“In the officers’ presence, the male became increasingly agitated, began screaming largely unintelligibly, and began moving about between the parked cars, striking the cars and ground with his body. Officers struggled to place the male in handcuffs for safety purposes,” the department said.
“During the course of the struggle, a 31-year-old male officer struck the male in the face and head area with a closed fist. Ultimately the male was secured in handcuffs and placed into a [Fire Department] Medic Unit for transportation to Einstein Medical Center," the department said.
Before arriving at the hospital, the man became unresponsive, the department said. Medics tried to resuscitate him and he was pronounced dead at the hospital at 5:58 p.m. His name was not released.
The store, at Wyoming Avenue, was operating normally Thursday night. An employee said the incident likely was recorded by the store’s multiple surveillance cameras. There were no signs in the parking lot of what had happened the day before.
“Any loss of life brings pain, sadness, and questions for those involved,” Outlaw said in the statement.
“We will conduct a thorough, complete, and objective investigation. At present, because the encounter involved an application of force, the involved officer has been placed in administrative duty status as the investigation proceeds. Additionally, the department is reviewing the existing policies and procedures as it relates to facts and circumstances surrounding this incident.”
The officer’s name was not released, and no other details were disclosed.