Man Dies of Apparent Asthma Attack After Arrest, Cops Say

12/23/2011 12:59 pm ET | Updated Feb 22, 2012

By Tuan Nguyen and Patrick Hedlund

MANHATTAN -- A man died of an apparent asthma attack after cops arrested him inside a Washington Heights restaurant for attempted larceny early Thursday evening, the NYPD said.

The man initially fled into Tommy's Grill, near the corner of West 158th and Broadway, about 5:20 p.m. after trying to commit a larceny outside the location, police said.

Cops arrested and handcuffed the 52-year-old man, who then told officers he was having difficulty breathing and said he had an asthma inhaler in his pocket, the NYPD said.

Police uncuffed the man so he could use the inhaler and also gave him water, police said. One of the officers then called for ambulance, which arrived and took the man to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the NYPD said.

Police had not identified the man as of Friday morning, and the investigation is ongoing.

A staffer at the restaurant who witnessed the incident said Friday morning that the man collapsed inside the eatery after he was apprehended, but he could not say whether it happened before or after his handcuffs were removed.

He added the entire series of events took only about 10 minutes.

"'They laid him on the floor and took him away in a stretcher,'" said the man, who works as a cook and declined to provide his name. "t's sad, very sad for him."

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