Nation

Lawyer blames Indianapolis police in teen’s death

INDIANAPOLIS — A shoplifting suspect who died in Indianapolis police custody had been forced to lie on his back for nearly 40 minutes after he was cuffed with his hands behind him, leaving the overweight, exhausted teen unable to breathe properly, a lawyer for his family said Thursday.

Terrell Day, 18, died Saturday in custody after complaining of breathing problems. The Marion County coroner ruled Monday that the black youth died of a heart attack.

Indianapolis police said officers were called Saturday to a clothing store on the city’s far east side after a gun-wielding man who had allegedly shoplifted fled the business. Police said they found Day near a handgun in a grassy area behind a nearby gas station.

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Attorney Nathaniel Lee said the teen ran more than 400 yards and was exhausted when officers found him.

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Lee said the 5-foot-6, 250-pound high school senior was kept on his back in handcuffs while struggling to breathe.

‘‘This is an 18-year-old who died, I think, unnecessarily,’’ he said during a Thursday news conference with Day’s mother and other relatives.

A video taken by a bystander shows Day trying to roll onto his side to get more air into his lungs, Lee said, but officers rolled him back onto his back.

City police officials said Monday that an EMS crew determined Day was fine to be taken into custody, and left the arrest scene. A second crew was called after Day’s condition worsened, and he died in the ambulance, officials said.

Associated Press