July 15, 2011 in City

Man taken into custody later dies

CdA officers did CPR; drug use suspected
By The Spokesman-Review

A 30-year-old man who lost consciousness while in Coeur d’Alene police custody died early Thursday at Kootenai Medical Center.

Nicholas Andrew Clason was pronounced dead at the hospital, where he was admitted late Sunday for a possible drug overdose.

Police first contacted him about 10:40 p.m. Sunday at the Fourth Street on-ramp of westbound Interstate 90 after officers received reports of a suicidal man.

It’s unclear if police used force to subdue Clason. Coeur d’Alene police spokeswoman Sgt. Christie Wood directed questions to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department, which she said is investigating the incident. But sheriff’s Lt. Stu Miller said his office had not yet received a report regarding Clason’s death.

A Post Falls police report detailing a car theft to which Clason recently pleaded guilty says he had type 2 diabetes.

When police encountered Clason on Sunday, they said he appeared to be trying to stab himself with “a sharp object,” Wood said in a news release. Police ordered him to drop several times before Clason “laid on the ground and officers were able to take him into protective custody,” Wood said.

Police said Clason had exhibited “unpredictable, agitated” behavior consistent with someone on narcotics. They said Clason stopped breathing “shortly after being taken into custody,” so they performed CPR until medical personnel arrived.

He was admitted to intensive care at the hospital and never regained consciousness. He was removed from life support and pronounced dead at 2 a.m. Thursday.

Police said Clason was from Spokane. News archives show he had also lived in Coeur d’Alene, where he had a criminal record in Kootenai County District Court that includes convictions for burglary and assault against a law enforcement officer. He also had convictions for drug possession and theft in Spokane County.

A recent ticket for driving with a suspended license in Spokane County listed him as a transient. Clason was to be sentenced in September for a petit theft for stealing a car from a handicapped spot outside a tanning salon in Post Falls.

The victim said she’d met Clason at a drug rehabilitation center in Spokane and knew he wasn’t doing well, according to a police report.

Coeur d’Alene police Chief Wayne Longo said he ordered a multi-agency review of Clason’s death to determine where he was before his encounter with police, among other questions.

“We are deeply saddened for the family of Nicholas Clason, and our thoughts and prayers are with them,” Longo said in a prepared statement.

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