A 33-year-old male Delta resident who collapsed during an "officer-involved situation" and was sent to the hospital Sunday was pronounced dead Wednesday, Aug. 21, by St. Mary's Medical Center in Grand Junction. Cause of death hasn't officially been determined and the Delta Police Department (DPD) is waiting on the autopsy and toxicology report.
At around 11:48 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 18, officers from the DPD responded to a call of a suspicious person possibly breaking into cars in the 40 Heinz Mobile Home Park in Delta, according to a statement from the DPD.
Officers made contact with the male, now identified as Mark Arnold Porter, who’s “eyes were open wide, he was shaking, mumbling, and seemed very afraid and confused, causing officers to be concerned for his well-being." Porter informed the officers he was “on a large dose of methamphetamine,” the DPD said. Paramedics with the Delta County Ambulance District were called by officers for assistance. Details of the incident were shared with the Delta County Independent through a special news release on the morning of Aug. 23.
In an attempt to leave the scene, Porter ran into a narrow walkway between a home and a wooden fence. Officers tried to coax him out as the area did not have an exit and was too small for everyone to fit in.
According to the report, at this time, “Porter’s arms were flailing, and his feet were continuously moving around as though he was having extreme difficulty controlling his body movements and listening to what officers were asking him to do. Officers were concerned for Porter’s safety and the safety of everyone else in the area.”
Porter then started tearing out pieces of the fence and throwing it at officers. A piece hit and caused a minor injury to one officer, according to the statement. The Delta County Sheriff's Department also responded after hearing that the suspect was armed with a board with nails sticking out of it and was uncooperative via the police radio.
After officers’ attempts to convince Porter to come out of the area failed, officers entered the area to help him. Porter continued to fight or try and get away from officers, and when deployed, officers' tasers had no effect on him, the DPD said.
After officers backed away, Porter came out of the area. “His movements were still very sporadic and uncontrolled as he attempted to move away from everyone and leave the scene,” the release stated.
“After all attempts to achieve cooperation failed, an officer tackled Porter, which put him in a position to be hand-cuffed,” the release continued. “Porter began to kick, twist, turn and pull away in an effort to free himself while he made grunting noises and tossed his head back and forth. Paramedics attempted to render medical aid to Porter as he continued to twist, yell and kick at everyone. As Porter started to calm down he became limp and unresponsive. Officers and paramedics determined he had lost consciousness.”
It hasn't been determined why Porter lost consciousness but DPD Chief Luke Fedler said there's "no indication he lost consciousness from any actions of law enforcement."
Handcuffs were then removed and emergency medical treatment was performed on Porter. He continued to receive medical while being transported to Delta County Memorial Hospital. Once there, emergency room staff determined he would be transferred to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction for treatment. “Treatment was ultimately unsuccessful, and Porter passed away,” the DPD release stated.
Due to the nature of the incident, and the officer’s “use of force,” the 7th Judicial District Critical Incident Investigation Team was requested to respond and investigate the incident. Fedler said, the best way he describes the investigations team is that they’re called out if there's any serious injury or fatality to someone in custody or attempting to be taken into custody.
According to the release, “The Critical Incident Investigation Team is a group of law enforcement officers from different agencies throughout the 7th Judicial District who have gone through specialized training to conduct investigations in incidents where officers have been involved or implicated in an incident where serious injury to another person may have occurred. Serious injury in these incidents involves any injury which may have involved loss of consciousness, extensive emergency medical treatment, injury by gunshot, and/or incidents involving death.”
The critical incident team is still handling the investigation and this case will likely go to the District Attorney, according to DPD. No further information is currently available or is estimated to be available in the near future.
The names of the officers involved are being withheld for investigative reasons. It hasn’t been confirmed if Porter was involved in the conducted prompting the initial call.
(This story was updated 2 p.m. Aug. 23. This is a developing story and will be edited as more information becomes available.)