Denton County

Man Dies After ‘Medical Episode' While in Denton PD Custody

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A 38-year-old man taken into custody by Denton police Tuesday during a disturbance call died after experiencing a "medical episode" while being restrained, police say.

According to Denton police, at about 11:42 p.m. officers were called to a disturbance at a hotel on the 600 block of S. Interstate 35E where the caller reported hearing glass breaking in the room and that the person inside seemed "out of it."

Prior to that 911 call, officers were at the room just 20 minutes before after being called there by the occupant who said someone was trying to get inside his room. When officers arrived the man said he was fine and didn't need police, so the officers left.

When police arrived for the second call, they saw two broken windows and a mattress on the sidewalk outside the hotel. Officers reported the occupant of the room could be heard yelling and screaming and they requested medics stage nearby.

Hotel staff asked police to remove the man from the room and charge him with criminal mischief. At the same time officers reported hearing the man screaming incoherently and yelling for help. The officers used a key to enter the man's room but returned to the hallway after officers said he picked up a piece of a broken bed frame and moved toward them.

Police waited a few minutes before going back into the room, hoping to de-escalate the situation. When they entered a second time, they noticed a dismantled bed frame, telephone wire securing both the front and bathroom door and blood on the bed and mattress.

While trying to speak with the man, who was in the restroom at the time, police said they were unable to get a coherent response.

Officers left the room again, trying to give him time to calm down after he pushed a large piece of glass under the restroom door.

About 30 minutes later, after things quieted down, police said officers entered the room again and found the man lying on the bed, sweating profusely. The man, according to police, asked the officers to shoot him.

Police said the man was placed in double-locked handcuffs without resistance or force but that when he began rolling around and attempting to kick the officers he was also placed in a leg restraint that wrapped his ankles.

Denton police said the man then "experienced a medical episode and became unresponsive" and was taken to a hospital by the medics who were staged nearby.

Police said they were told Wednesday morning that the man died.

He was identified by the Tarrant County medical examiner's office as 38-year-old James Senase. His cause of death has not been determined.

“I can tell you that our officers really show a great amount of restraint,” Denton Police Chief Frank Dixon said. “They showed a great amount of professionalism, trying to really focus on making sure this person was OK.

Denton police said the Texas Rangers are currently investigating the in-custody death and that their internal affairs division is running a concurrent investigation.

“Obviously, any time there’s a death, it’s a tragedy. It’s a tragedy for someone that lost a brother, a son, and we don’t take that lightly,” Dixon said.

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