Buffalo Police investigating death of man during overnight arrest

Feb 8, 2017

A spokesman for the Buffalo Police Department said Wednesday morning that investigations by more than one agency are underway following the death of a 20-year-old Buffalo man who was being taken into custody overnight.

The incident began on Hoyt Street near the corner of Arnold Street shortly before midnight, according to Buffalo Police Lieutenant Jeff Rinaldo. Officers were there investigating what was said to be "suspicious activity" by an individual. That person, identified by police as Wardel Davis, allegeldy fled officers and, according to Rinaldo, scuffled with them once they caught up with him.

Credit WBFO file image

The officers then placed Davis in handcuffs but, as Rinaldo explained further, they then noticed the he was undergoing a medical episode.

"Officers immediately unhandcuffed the suspect and began first aid, including CPR," he said. "Ambulance and Fire Response was notified to the scene. The suspsect was transported to Buffalo General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead."

The arresting officers were placed on administrative leave. One is white and the other African-American, according to Rinaldo. One of the officers was treated for minor injuries after the scuffle.

Buffalo Police Internal Affairs and the Homicide Bureau are both conducting probes. The Erie County District Attorney's Office and State Attorney General's Office have both been notified. Rinaldo explained that under legislation passed last summer by Governor Cuomo, the State Attorney General is required to investigate all cases involving deaths in police custody.

When asked if drugs may have played a part in Davis' death, Rinaldo said nothing had been ruled out.

"As part of an autopsy, all those factors are looked at," he said.