Family of Arlington man who died in police custody files suit

Paul Handout photo

The family of a man who died while in custody of Arlington police has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and police, claiming that Jonathan Ryan Paul was denied medical attention and that officers used excessive force and unlawful restraint — all of which led to his death.

Paul, 42, died on March 13 at Arlington Memorial Hospital four days after his arrest by Arlington police officers who were responding to a disturbance call, according to authorities. The city of Arlington, unidentified officers and Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson are named in the lawsuit.

Paul’s death has been ruled an “in-custody death with application of physical restraints,” according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office. The cause of death, however, has not been determined.

Arlington police said in an emailed statement on Tuesday that the investigation into Paul’s death is nearing its conclusion and that the results of that investigation are expected to be submitted to the Tarrant County district attorney’s office within a week. The department was awaiting a cause of death ruling from the medical examiner’s office and acknowledges the undetermined finding made public on Tuesday.

Police said the department has continued to keep the family informed about the progress of the investigation.

“We owe Mr. Paul’s family, as well as our community, a transparent, fair and impartial review of the facts,” Johnson said. “These facts will ultimately determine the course and outcome of the investigation.”

The lawsuit filed in federal court earlier in May states that an unidentified officer is believed to have killed Paul and that Arlington officials are responsible for that officer’s behavior and lack of training.

“At some point during the transfer and/or while in the isolation cell, the unidentified Defendant Officer or officers are believed to have used excessive and undue force by physically restraining Jonathan Paul around the neck and compressing his airways, which caused him to stop breathing,” the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit also alleges that when Arlington officials became aware of Paul’s medical problems, they were deliberately indifferent to his needs and denied him the medical care that might have saved his life.

Arlington police have referred all questions to the city’s legal department, which did not respond to requests for comment. Police have said that video of the area where Paul was being held will not be released until after the investigation.

Paul was arrested after officers were called to his apartment in the 300 block of East Mitchell Street because of a disturbance. When they arrived, they heard Paul yelling and saw broken windows, the news release from the Arlington police said. Officers were told that Paul had been throwing items out of an upstairs window.

Officers determined that Paul was wanted on multiple misdemeanor warrants. He was arrested after officers tried several times to speak with him, the release said. Paul was agitated and noncompliant at the Arlington Jail, according to the release.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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