“Nobody's been cleared yet,” he said. “They can't be cleared until the DA (district attorney) examines all the evidence and makes a decision.”
Police wanted to wait for a determination on the cause and manner of death from the medical examiner before reporting the death, Citty said. That has taken longer than expected, he said.
“We had to take it from internal affairs and move it to homicide,” Citty said.
“That decision to move it to homicide was being made. We didn't know what the investigation was going to be classified as by the medical examiner's office.”
Early indications are that his death was a result of the physical arrest, Citty said.
“We decided to go ahead and start working it as a homicide,” he said.
Mayor Mick Cornett declined to comment on the incident until he can review a medical examiner's report, said Steve Hill, the mayor's chief of staff.
History of convictions
Court records show Howard had a history of convictions in several Oklahoma counties.
In 2008, he pleaded guilty to obstructing a police officer, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and possession of a controlled substance out of Logan County, records show.
He also pleaded guilty to offenses like possession of cocaine.
While in the hospital, Howard was under arrest for police traffic complaints and a complaint of eluding officers, Nelson said.
At the time of the incident, Howard was wanted on a Garvin County warrant for trafficking in illegal drugs, Nelson said.
Howard's family has hired attorney David Slane to look into the incident.
He said the family wants to see medical records that reveal more about the extent of Howard's injuries.
“At that point, we'll decided whether or not we'll call for an outside investigation to occur,” he said.
Howard's family members characterized him as nonviolent.
“We are very concerned and very confused,” Turner said. “We just want the truth.”