The Linn County Attorney says the death of a man in police custody was an accident and officers were not at fault.
Paul Saldivar became unresponsive and unconscious while in custody May 10th. He died at Mercy Hospital in Cedar Rapids one week later, after being taken off life support.
Police officers came into contact with Saldivar on May 10th, when doing bar checks. Employees and patrons at the Hazard County Bar told officers he was heavily intoxicated, causing problems and had already been kicked out of the business. When police asked to speak with him, Saldivar ran away.
Officers caught up to Paul Saldivar later, and say he fought back when they tried to take him into custody. Saldivar refused to sit up, and officers had to use force to get him into a squad car, pulling him across the back seat to close both doors.
Officers say Saldivar continued to fight while in the backseat, at one point hitting his head against the door's armrest. He eventually stopped fighting, and once the squad car arrived at the jail, was unresponsive with no pulse.
Officers tried CPR, and Saldivar was taken to the hospital where he never regained consciousness.
After an autopsy, doctors concluded Paul Saldivar died as a result of "positional asphyxia," which occurs when a person's posture hinders their ability to breathe. A pathologist also found "acute ethanol intoxication" was a significant factor in the cause of death. Alcohol acts as a respiratory depressant and may have hindered Paul Saldivar's ability to breathe when his neck was positioned in such a way as to block the natural flow of oxygen into his body.
The Division of Criminal Investigation referred their investigative file to the Linn County Attorney for legal review. The Linn County Attorney ruled the death was an accident, and police used appropriate force to make their arrest. The Linn County Attorney says there is no evidence to suggest criminal charges should be filed.
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