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Man dies in police custody

Hyattsville Police Car

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Posted on: November 16, 2020

Edwin Morales, a 29-year-old Mount Rainier man, died in Hyattsville police custody on the afternoon of Oct. 14, following a bicycle and foot chase, and a short struggle.  

According to a city police press release, at about 3:40 p.m. on Oct. 14, a resident called 911 to report the theft of his bicycle on Rhode Island Avenue in Mount Rainier. The bike owner followed the suspect in a car.

Hyattsville City Police Department (HCPD) Sgt. Patrick O’Hagan was first on the scene, as reported by ABC7, based on the incident report they obtained. Near the 5900 block of Baltimore Avenue, Morales jumped off the bike and fled on foot.  

ABC7 reported that O’Hagan, pursued Morales, struck him with a baton and pushed him, causing Morales to stumble and fall.

According to the HCPD press release, Morales “fell twice and continued to run before falling into a wooded area.”

HCPD Media Relations Manager Adrienne Augustus wrote in an email that the HCPD press release did not report the baton strike because initial review of the body camera footage did not show the baton actually striking Morales. “We did not believe what appeared to be a swing and miss were relevant to the sudden deterioration of the suspect’s health and unfortunate death.”  

Augustus acknowledged “the possibility that the baton may have grazed the suspect’s leg; however, the suspect continued running.”

Officers requested an ambulance “for suspected unknown drug intoxication,” according to the press release.  

Morales became unresponsive before the ambulance arrived, and officers removed the handcuffs and began CPR. Morales revived briefly, according to the press release. He was later pronounced dead at University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center. 

Prince George’s County Police Department investigators are reviewing evidence and awaiting autopsy results.  

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