Authorities are investigating why a 48-year-old man lost consciousness and died just after being detained in the lobby of the Dallas County jail Saturday morning.
According to authorities, Joseph Sheldon Hutcheson ran into the building sometime after 10 a.m., yelled for help, was placed in handcuffs, lost consciousness and died.
Raul Reyna, the Dallas County sheriff’s office spokesman, said Hutcheson parked his pickup in the crosswalk on Commerce Street and ran into the jail’s south tower, yelling that his wife was trying to hurt him, Reyna said.
Hutcheson then ran into the main lobby of the Lew Sterrett Justice Center, yelling that his wife was trying to kill him, Reyna said.
A deputy restrained Hutcheson with handcuffs, “believing that he may be a threat to himself or others until they could calm the man down,” Reyna said in an email.
April Berryhill, who was at the jail to submit a property release form, said she saw one sheriff’s deputy with his knee on Hutcheson’s back and another one with a knee on his throat.
Berryhill said Hutcheson told deputies he couldn’t breathe before they uncuffed him and laid him down on his back.
By then, the color of his face had turned from pale white to pale blue, Berryhill said.
“He came in saying, ‘Don’t be scared of me. I just need some help.’ They just tackled him as if he’d threatened their lives,” Berryhill said. “He didn’t have a weapon. He wasn’t swinging at the officers. He just needed help.”
Reyna said deputies performed CPR at the scene until Dallas Fire-Rescue arrived and took him to Parkland Memorial Hospital.
He was pronounced dead at 11:31 a.m.
The jail remained closed to visitors Saturday afternoon. Investigators were at the scene, with some officers stationed behind Hutcheson’s black pickup, which remained parked on Commerce Street.
Reyna said deputies saw what “appeared to be narcotics” in the truck.
Hutcheson was released from the Dallas County jail on July 19, 2014, after spending nearly five months locked up following his arrest on drug possession and other charges.
The Dallas County medical examiner’s office will determine Hutcheson’s cause of death, and the findings will be included in the sheriff’s investigation, Reyna said.