PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A man died at a Salem hospital after police took him into custody Saturday night. The cause of his death is still unknown.
Salem police officers were called out to a local restaurant on the south side of town at approximately 9:40 p.m. on a report of a disturbance. They arrived to find a man who was trespassing at the Best Little Roadhouse.
Witnesses tell KOIN 6 News that the man was acting aggravated when he was in the restaurant. Some people reported that he was yelling at times after being seated. They said the manager of Best Little Roadhouse went over to talk to him, and he threatened the manager.
“There was definitely cause for concern, definitely threat of violence so that’s why the police were called,” said Erica Rosborough, who witnessed the incident. She was working at the Best Little Roadhouse when the man who ended up losing his life walked into the restaurant and bar.
“He told my manager that he was going to kill him,” she said. That manager then called the police. When they arrived, officers tried to arrest him.
“They were trying to hold him down and he just kept trying to thrash and run away,” Rosborough said. “The tables had to be moved and they were just pushing things, everything out of the way to try to get him to calm down.”
He resisted arrest when officers tried to take him into custody. Rosborough said at some point the man was tased, and after that, he stopped moving. Salem Police have not confirmed these details—they have only said that the man had a medical emergency.
“They started doing CPR and got him in an ambulance and got him out of there,” Rosborough said. “But I think he was pretty much already gone.”
Medics took the man to Salem Health for evaluation and treatment. However, Salem Police said that later Saturday night the man was pronounced dead at the hospital.
“It was pretty traumatic for everyone,” Rosborough said.
The cause of his death is still under investigation.
“I just wish there was a like a hotline for people who are trained to deal with mental illness, and maybe could have calmed down the situation instead of making everything just more tense,” Rosborough said. “It could have had a different outcome maybe. It’s just terrible for everyone, everyone involved.”
Salem Police have not disclosed the man’s identity.
Although he was at the hospital when he died, police are treating this case as an in-custody death. The officers involved are now on administrative leave. The Oregon State Police is doing a follow-up investigation.