WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Four white police officers are on administrative duty after a black man who was subdued with pepper spray died in custody, authorities said.
Winston-Salem authorities said in a written statement that 31-year-old Travis Nevelle Page became unresponsive after he was taken into custody Wednesday night following a brief struggle with officers. Page died at a hospital.
Two of the officers have been with the department for 20 years or more; the others, one year and three years.
Police said they responded to a report of a firearm being fired and found a man matching the description given by the caller. They found a handgun on Page before he was taken to the hospital, the statement said.
Page's relatives told the Winston-Salem Journal that he had health problems.
Page suffered from high blood pressure, gout and bronchitis, according to Shireka Hayes, who was Page's girlfriend and the mother of his two children, and to Page's mother, Ida Marie Page. Page also had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, Hayes said.
Hayes said Thursday that police told her Page was found unconscious and that he had swallowed drugs; she didn't know what kind. The police statement indicates that Page had a controlled substance.
Hayes said she saw Page around 7 p.m. Wednesday as she left for the grocery store.
Police took his gun last year, and she said she wasn't aware that had another one. She said he told police that he had the gun when they came to his apartment on suspicion that he had drugs.
Hayes said Page was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and that he was on probation at the time of his death.
Spokesman Shannon O'Toole of the State Bureau of Investigation, which is handling the case, said any video from body or dash cameras would be part of an investigative file and not public record. He estimated the lab and autopsy results will take two to three months.
Placing officers on administrative leave is standard procedure in such cases.