Kelley Chase, 38, was hours away from completing a police academy training course when his head hit the mat.
Chase would not get up again. The Oklahoma City police recruit and Air Force veteran was taken to a hospital Friday afternoon. He underwent surgery, was placed on life support and died Saturday morning.
Chase was working with an instructor on routine self-defense tactics when the freak accident happened, police said.
The state medical examiner will have to determine the exact cause the death, Capt. Dexter Nelson said Monday.
Forty-seven recruits in the police academy class began training in May, Nelson said. Each one passed an extensive physical exam.
At the time of the accident, Chase was undergoing a test on the last day of a two-week self-defense techniques course. During the six-minute rotation of simulated fights, he went to the ground several times with different instructors, hitting his head on a mat.
“They want to see if the person can work with a combatant over a period of time and be able to keep their wits about them,” Nelson said.
It's an exercise in specific tactics and endurance, but also restraint; recruits should use force, but not too much of it, as they try to handcuff an attacker.
The recruits do not wear helmets or other head gear during the exercises.