Long-awaited toxicology tests reveal Kevin Duncan died from cocaine intoxication after he was taken into custody during a March 20 drug interdiction stop.
The autopsy results were the final piece in an investigation into the 38-year-old Springfield man’s death and agents with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation found no wrong doing on the part of Bellefontaine police officers.
Police Chief Brandon Standley turned over the in-custody death investigation to BCI that day. Such BCI probes are conducted as a criminal investigation to determine if there was any wrong doing on the part of the arresting officers.
They found no evidence a crime was committed, Logan County Prosecutor Eric Stewart reports.
“At no time did either officers use lethal force on Mr. Duncan,” he said. “Mr. Duncan died as a result of his own actions.”
Chief Standley noted officers used appropriate levels of force to subdue Duncan.
“The tragic incident of March 20, 2021, involving the arrest of Kevin Duncan, and his subsequent overdose death is a reminder of how drug abuse and drug trafficking can cause a person to make poor decisions,” the chief said.
He noted officers tried to revive Duncan when he began to convulse.
As a department policy, Chief Standley said Bellefontaine police officers are not allowed to use choke holds and they do not train in choke hold tactics.
“Instead,” Chief Standley said, “officers are trained to subdue offenders with the least amount of force necessary to effect the arrest.
“As a suspect’s conduct increases in violence, the level of response also is authorized to increase to gain control of the situation without anyone getting injured.
“This situation clearly shows that officers did follow the use of force continuum, and effected the arrest.”
BCI agents looked at cruiser dash cam footage of the initial stop and subsequent apprehension of Duncan. They also reviewed incident reports and witness statements.
According to initial reports, Duncan was stopped at 6:17 p.m. March 20 in the parking lot of an apartment complex in the 500 block of east High Avenue by Bellefontaine Police Department Officer Jacob Siekierka.
Duncan remained in a sport utility vehicle as Siekierka walked up to the driver’s door. Sierkierka opened the door and then pulled Duncan out of the SUV after observing the suspect swallowing narcotics.
A struggle ensued between Duncan and Siekierka.
Siekierka was knocked down and unconscious in the struggle, according to a witness and dash cam footage from the officer’s cruiser.
Duncan can be seen running north from the parking lot along a wood privacy fence but he was stopped by Officer Jerrod Hostetler before he could reach the end of the fence and cross into another parking lot.
Dash cam footage from Hostetler’s cruiser shows the two struggle with Hostetler taking Duncan to the ground. Hostetler sat on Duncan’s lower back as the suspect fought the officer’s efforts to handcuff him.
Hostetler deployed canine Boodik, which bit Duncan and remained on the suspect until Hostetler was able to handcuff the suspect.
Once Duncan was handcuffed, Hostetler got up from the suspect’s back and commanded Boodik to release his hold. Boodik was returned to the cruiser.
Incident reports note Duncan was holding a bag of crack cocaine in his right hand at the time of the arrest.
The suspect lost consciousness and began to convulse. Two other officers arrived on scene and began to administer life-saving efforts including doses of Narcan.
Personnel with the Bellefontaine Fire and EMS Department soon arrived to treat Sierkierka and Duncan.
Sierkierka was transported to Mary Rutan Hospital for treatment and then released.
Efforts at the scene and MRH failed to revive Duncan and his body was taken to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office for an autopsy.
Several witnesses provided statements and all reported hearing a loud commotion and struggles in which both officers repeatedly yelled for Duncan to comply with their orders.
One witness observed the fight between Duncan and Sierkierka from an upstairs window of her apartment. She said Duncan repeatedly hit the officer in the face and slammed him to the parking lot pavement.