Maryland State Police are investigating the death of a man who may have ingested drugs prior to being arrested by Ocean City police.
Authorities said Byron K. Tunnell, 28, of Ocean City, was stopped for a traffic violation about 11 p.m. Monday. Police said Tunnell drove several blocks before pulling over, telling the officer that he knew his license was suspended and that he wanted to get his car back to his house.
The officer informed Tunnell that he was under arrest and tried to handcuff him. Tunnell reportedly resisted, and a backup officer discharged his Taser.
The device did not have its intended effect and Tunnell fled on foot, allegedly discarding drugs before being subdued, according to police. Officers later recovered two small baggies of suspected crack cocaine and a glass pipe.
Medics who evaluated Tunnell at the scene, which is protocol after deployment of a Taser, determined that he needed no further medical help. But Tunnell requested to go to the hospital and was taken there in a police van. He was examined and released into police custody shortly before 1 a.m. Tuesday.
While being taken to the police department for booking, Tunnell, who was monitored through the audio and video system in the van, said he wasn't feeling well and indicated that he may have swallowed drugs prior to his arrest.
Minutes later, according to police, Tunnell appeared to have a seizure. Officers began performing CPR before emergency medical personnel arrived. Tunnell was taken by ambulance back to Atlantic General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
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Greg Shipley, a state police spokesman, said the Ocean City officers did not have body cameras, but that investigators were reviewing video footage from the police transport van.
Tunnell's death comes just over a year after another man who claimed to have swallowed drugs prior to his arrest died after suffering a seizure while in Ocean City police custody. Jerome Weston, 37, of Greenwood, Delaware, who reportedly had 1,500 bags of heroin in his vehicle, told emergency personnel after his August 2016 arrest that he had swallowed cocaine.
Shipley said Tuesday that a medical examiner found no trauma during the Weston autopsy, and that his death was ruled an accidental overdose.