The death of a Bronx man in police custody in January has been ruled a homicide, the city’s medical examiner said Tuesday.
Dwayne Pritchett, 48, had heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and other drugs in his system, according to the ME’s office, and died “during a physical struggle with police including neck compression.” The autopsy also revealed that Pritchett had a heart condition and food stuck in his throat, which contributed to his death.
The ME’s office noted that determining the death to be a homicide does not necessarily indicate criminality.
A police spokeswoman said in an email that a joint investigation between the NYPD and the attorney general’s office is ongoing and the officers involved remain on duty.
Officers were first called to Pritchett’s apartment in Jerome Park on Jan. 28 after his father said he was in his bedroom and refused to come out.
When the officers arrived, Pritchett, who police said was emotionally disturbed, opened the door to his room, and cops said they saw a handgun magazine on the floor. As the officers put Pritchett in handcuffs, police said he tried to grab a gun from one of them.
Shortly after the officers took Pritchett from the room, he lost consciousness, according to police. Emergency personnel, who already were at the scene, took him to NewYork-Presbyterian / The Allen Hospital in Manhattan, where he was pronounced dead.
Pritchett, who worked as a barber, was scheduled to celebrate his son’s third birthday in Atlanta just a few days later.
His son’s mother, Alotisia Stevens, previously called Pritchett a “family man” who had “a happy spirit.”
“Even if he had a drinking problem, even if he had a drug problem, that does not justify what happened,” Stevens added.