Buffalo Police cell block suspect dies in custody

Jun 3, 2019

When attendants in Buffalo's police cell block went to get a prisoner ready for a later court appearance on Sunday morning, they found him in fatal stress. Despite efforts by cell block attendants, firefighters and ambulance EMTs, the 42-year-old Buffalo man died.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

The man was identifed Monday as Timothy Budek. Police expect to have autopsy reports Monday, potentially listing his cause of death.

Budek was arrested Saturday afternoon at South and Louisiana streets and hit with a series of misdemeanor and felony drug possession and drug paraphenalia possession charges.

"He was stopped on the street for suspicious activity. He was found to be in possession of narcotics and drug paraphenalia," said Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo. "That's when he was placed under arrest and transported to the Central Booking Bureau downtown."

Budek was taken hours later to the cell block in the basement of City Court for a court appearance at 9:30 a.m. Rinaldo said he did not want to comment on whether the suspect had a criminal history.

"When someone is arrested, their clothes are taken from them. They're thoroughly searched and returned to them to put back on," said Rinaldo. "We are not a jail. We are a holding center, so people are there for less than 24 hours, generally."

Budek was given routine screening for drug and alcohol problems and his clothing was searched, although he was not put in a jumpsuit. Rinaldo said those arrested are not usually put into special lothing.

"Generally, we do not issue jumpsuits. People are allowed to remain in their own clothing unless, for some reason, your clothing would be taken as evidence in a crime, for instance a rape or a homicide," Rinaldo said. "I do not believe that was the case. I do believe he was in his own clothing."

However, he said those brought in are thoroughly searched.

Buffalo Police Chief of Staff Jeff Rinaldo addresses the media Sunday.
Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"We thoroughly check clothing, down to literally with a hand search every single piece of stitching and clothing," he said. "So I don't believe that that's the case. Obviously, we have to await results of an autopsy."

Rinaldo said Budek was alone in his cell and found unresponsive at 8:45 a.m. Attendants treated it as a medical emergency.

"Our cell block attendants immediately entered the cell and began first aid, which included CPR, and notified the lieutenant to call for an ambulance," Rinaldo said. "An ambulance and Buffalo Fire were dispatched and began CPR, as well as cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, as well as use of a defibrillator. Unfortunately, the suspect did not survive."

Rinaldo said Internal Affairs and the Homicide Squad are looking at nearly 18 hours of videotape from the camera focused on the man's cell to see what occurred and posibly missed by the cell block attendants. He said viturally the entire cell block, including each individual cell, except in the toilet area, is under video surveillance, but every cell is not constantly under watch.

The death was immediately reported to the New York State Commission of Correction.