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Man dies after Oklahoma City police, family try to subdue him

Clifton Armstrong, 38, died Wednesday night while in police custody in northwest Oklahoma City.
BY JULIANA KEEPING Modified: May 2, 2013 at 11:55 pm •  Published: May 2, 2013

Family members of a man who died in police custody are questioning why their loved one died.

Clifton Armstrong, 38, died about 9 p.m. Wednesday after police tried to subdue him outside of a home at 1421 NW 99 in northwest Oklahoma City, police said.

Police are investigating his death.

The home belongs to the man's mother, Velencia Armstrong-Maiden, family members said. Her son lived in the same neighborhood.

Police and firefighters were called to the home in response to a residential panic alarm.

About the same time, Armstrong called 911 to report people in his house were trying to kill him, Oklahoma City police Capt. Dexter Nelson said.

The first two officers who arrived determined Armstrong was delusional, possibly suffering from mental illness and in need of emergency detention for treatment, Nelson said.

His family members said Armstrong was not mentally ill. He had a drug problem and was addicted to meth, they said.

According to police, family members helped the officers take Armstrong outside.

He became physically uncooperative and stripped off his clothes, Nelson said.

Armstrong's grandmother, Jean Lawrence Griffin, was at the home at the time.

Lawrence Griffin said she and Armstrong's mother were ordered inside while police placed Armstrong in restraints on the ground. Lawrence Griffin said she kept going onto the porch to try and see what was going on, she said.

Then it got quiet.

“He had stopped struggling,” she said.

Police told her they were handling it.

“I didn't know they were going to handle it to the death,” she said.

‘Maximum restraint'

Officers had placed Armstrong in handcuffs and used belts to restrain his leg movement. The “maximum restraint hobble system” entails the use of a belt system that stops combative people from kicking, Nelson said.

“It keeps them from separating their legs so they can't kick or run,” Nelson said.

Paramedics with the Emergency Medical Services Authority performed CPR on Armstrong.

Armstrong's family members said they saw grass up his nose. They worry his oxygen supply was cut off, said his sister, Brigette Armstrong.

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