Black man dies in police custody after pepper spray deployed
Winston-Salem Police Department officers responded to a discharging firearm call at the Family Dollar store on Old Rural Hall Road around 7:30pmWednesday evening, when the incident began, according to law enforcement.
A brief struggle occurred as police attempted to detain 31-year-old Travis Nevelle Page, triggering one of the officers to use department-issued pepper spray.
The suspect became unresponsive after officers gained control of him and placed him in handcuffs.
A witness, Tameka McLean, told the WFMY News 2 that she managed to record a video on her cell phone, which shows police and Page on the ground.
The Winston-Salem PD’s officers – Corporal Robert Fenimore, Christopher Doub, Austin Conrad and Officer Jacob Tuttle – performed CPR and immediately requested emergency medical services. Page was taken to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.
"Then one of the officer started running up here to the house to get something out of the car. Sounded like they said, Do you have an inhaler? Do you have an inhaler? At that point, we saw the man wasn't moving at all. He was just still. Then one of the officers said, We got it (the inhaler), we got it, and the other officer ran back down to where the incident was taking place, and they started CPR," Deena Brown, McLean’s sister, said to WFMY.
According to police, a handgun was found on Page before he was taken to a hospital. All four officers have been placed on administrative duty for the time of the investigation.
The medical examiner has not yet released Page's cause of death, but Page’s family has said that the man had health problems, including high blood pressure and bronchitis, the Winston-Salem Journal reported.
Shireka Hayes, Page's girlfriend and the mother of his two children, told the newspaper that police stated Page was found unconscious and that he apparently had swallowed drugs.
Page's mother, Ida Marie Page, has also confirmed that her son was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and had been taking medications for those conditions.
According to Hayes, until his death on Wednesday, Page was on probation after being charged with possession of a firearm last year. She also failed to either confirm or deny to the newspaper if Page had possessed a gun since his weapon was confiscated.
The officers involved in the incident have spent up to over 20 years with the police department. Two of the policemen – Fenimore and Doub – spent 20 and 22 years with the Winston-Salem Police Department, respectively. The other two officers – Conrad and Tuttle – have served for three years and one year, respectively.