Disabled Man's Death After Police Struggle Ruled an Accident

The death of a disabled Virginia man, who died after a struggle with police, has been ruled an accident by a medical examiner, police say.

An autopsy report said Paul Gianelos, a 45-year-old man with cognitive disabilities, died of a cardiac arrhythmia associated with police restraint, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

On April 20, Gianelos, a resident of a group home, wandered away from caregivers at Round Tree Park in Falls Church about 1 p.m.

After finding Gianelos a mile and a half away from the park, a Fairfax County police officer asked the caregiver to meet them, police said.

Police said Gianelos became combative with the officer, who called for assistance.

Four officers restrained him and handcuffed him behind his back. In the struggle, Gianelos' forehead was scraped.

Police said they requested medical help from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.

Police Chief Col. Edwin Roessler said Gianelos was alert and breathing when police called paramedics, but he experienced "an apparent medical emergency" when paramedics arrived, according to a police report.

Gianelos received CPR and was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital. Shortly after, he was pronounced dead, police said.

The confrontation prompted an internal investigation, in both the criminal and administrative divisions. The criminal investigation has been turned over to the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for the County of Fairfax, for final determination of criminal liability.

The internal administrative investigation is ongoing, police said.

Contact Us