Fairfax County Officers Cleared of Wrongdoing in Death of Autistic Man

WASHINGTON — The Fairfax County commonwealth’s attorney says he won’t press charges against any of the police officers involved in restraining an autistic man in Annandale, who died after the encounter.

“Sometimes very terrible things happen and it is not anyone’s fault in particular,” said Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh.

In April, Paul Gianelos, 45, wandered away from a group home trip to Roundtree Park in Annandale. Police were called, and an officer with crisis intervention training located Gianelos, who is autistic and legally blind, walking down a sidewalk on Annandale Road.

According to an investigation report, the officer was initially able to calm the man and held his hand as they awaited caretakers to arrive.

After a second officer arrived on the scene, Gianelos, who weighed 220 pounds, became agitated and wanted to get away from officers, the report stated. To keep him safe, the decision was made by the officers to take Gianelos to the ground.

“The police never struck Mr. Gianelos or used any weapons on him, and they were careful not to obstruct his airway,” Morrogh said.

After the encounter Gianelos looked pale and had labored breathing according to the investigation report. When paramedics arrived, Gianelos was not responding and they began CPR. He died later at the hospital.

In August, the medical examiner reported that Gianelos died of cardiac arrhythmia associated with police restraint.

“He essentially exerted himself to the point where he went into arrhythmia,” Morrogh said.

His death was ruled accidental and after talking with the officers, witnesses and the medical examiner, Morrogh said the evidence supported the findings.

“The police did not act in any criminal way during this really tragic encounter,” Morrogh said.

As for the officers involved, Morrogh said he expected them to be returned to active duty after the department closes its internal investigation.

The post Fairfax County officers cleared of wrongdoing in death of autistic man appeared first on WTOP.

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