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Investigation underway after CT man dies in police custody following apparent mental health crisis

Hartford Courant - 11/3/2023

The Office of Inspector General is investigating an in-custody death of a man who was tased multiple times by police after officers found him suffering from apparent self-inflicted wounds Tuesday at a home in Wolcott.

On Friday, Inspector General Robert Devlin released a preliminary report and body camera footage from one of the Wolcott Police Department officers involved who helped take 52-year-old Robert Scott Brown into custody before he was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury where he was pronounced dead. The Inspector General is investigating the death with the assistance of multiple agencies.

Wolcott officers on Tuesday were dispatched to a home on Tyrell Drive at about 3:45 a.m. on the report of a person experiencing a mental health crisis, according to Devlin’s report. Officers were directed to a bedroom in the house where they found Brown lying on the floor covered in blood, suffering from two large wounds on his neck that appeared to be self-inflicted, the report said.

“He was obviously seriously injured and had suffered a significant loss of blood,” Devlin wrote in the preliminary report.

According to the report, Brown became combative with officers when they tried to help him and pushed them away while holding a razor in his hand. He later reportedly brandished a saw blade, which he reportedly refused to let go of so that medics could provide him treatment.

According to Devlin’s report, police were eventually able to take Brown into custody by using a Taser on him. He was taken in an ambulance to St. Mary’s Hospital and was pronounced dead at about 5:04 a.m.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said Friday the cause and manner of death for Brown have not yet been determined.

The body camera footage from one of the officers, released Friday along with Devlin’s preliminary report, shows officers discussing the situation in the hallway outside of the bedroom, saying they are going to attempt to Taser him again and have officers “rush in there.”

Officers can be heard on the body camera saying Brown suffered a “huge laceration” and that he is “covered in blood” and has been swinging a saw blade and “everything he can.” An officer can also be heard saying Brown at that point had already been tasered about four times.

“We’re out of options.” one officer said before police agreed that they would use the Taser again and “try to grab him.”

As officers enter the room, the body camera footage shows Brown lying on the ground, swinging a saw blade above his head, with what appears to be blood all over his chest. There are also several illegible writings that appear to have been written in blood on the walls.

“Scott, come on, man,” one officer can be heard saying. “Help us out.”

“Let us help you. Let us help you, man. Alright?”

Another officer can then be heard telling Brown multiple times to “let go of that thing” before another officer says “Taser, Taser, Taser” and deploys a Taser. The body camera footage released Friday cuts off shortly after Brown was tasered.

The in-custody death is being investigated by the Office of Inspector General with assistance from the Connecticut State Police Western District Major Crime Squad, Wolcott Police Department, Bristol Police Department, Waterbury Police Department, and Waterbury State’s Attorney’s Office.

The Inspector General in Connecticut investigates all deaths in police or Department of Correction custody in accordance with the police accountability bill.

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