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Man arrested on drug charges dies in his cell

Posted at 12:07 PM, Dec 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-19 18:21:54-05

A 28-year-old man died in Cheektowaga Police custody early Monday morning.

According to Assistant Chief Speyer, the man was arrested around 9 p.m. Sunday night on drug charges. He was a passenger in a car that was pulled over for traffic violations when police found 39 oxycodone pills hidden in his sock and a bag of marijuana in his pants.

Police say the man was taken to police headquarters and charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of marijuana and false personation.

Cheektowaga Police also report the man had three outstanding warrants from Buffalo.

Officers say he was calm and cooperative during the arrest and booking process.

He was assigned to a cell around 10:30 p.m. and was found sitting upright dead in his cell in the Cheektowaga Police Department around 1 a.m. During his regular cell block check, the Cheektowaga Detention Officer the man appeared to be bleeding while sitting up on his bench. The Detention Officer went into the cell, noticed the man was not breathing and initiated CPR.

Officers called for an ambulance and used a defibulator, but he could not be resuscitated.

AMR Ambulance medics took over lifesaving efforts but ultimately pronounced him dead.

An autopsy was completed Monday, but the cause of death is pending a toxicology report, which could take weeks.

According to police, medical examiners found a bag with white powder on the inmate's body during the autopsy.  Police say they believe it is cocaine and a possible cause of death is a drug overdose.

"The autopsy found that he had a white powder in a plastic bag concealed on his person," said Assistant Chief James Speyer of Cheektowaga Police.  "We will be sending this to the lab as evidence to have it tested, but it appears that it is probably cocaine at this time."

According to Speyer, police likely would have only found the bag if they conducted a strip search.

"Our officers, by policy, are not permitted to do strip searches unless there is some reason for the strip search," he said.  "In this case, it didn't appear that there was a reason for it.  He was not strip searched."

The New York Department of Corrections was notified of the death as per state law. A full investigation by detectives is ongoing.