A man seemingly experienced a “medical emergency” while being arrested early Sunday morning though hospital staff could not later determine a medical cause, according to the Riley County Police Department.
RCPD spokeswoman Officer Rachel Pate said Joshua Stepney, 31, of Manhattan, approached Fort Riley courtesy patrol officers in Aggieville and spoke with them at 12:14 a.m. Pate said police recognized Stepney and confirmed with emergency dispatch that he had active warrants through Riley and Pottawatomie County district courts for probation violation.
Police said Stepney physically resisted officers when they attempted to arrest him by not moving his arms behind his back. They utilized a “wrist lock technique” to do so and released his wrists once he was handcuffed.
Pate said Stepney appeared to experience a medical emergency while walking over to the patrol car. Police declined to clarify what the medical emergency was, citing HIPPA privacy.
In a video taken by a bystander of the incident, a woman said she believed the man was experiencing a seizure. The woman expressed her concerns about how the cops, who were white, were treating Stepney, a Black man.
The circulation of the video came as tensions have remained high around the country after the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
The case in Manhattan did not immediately seem to be as explosive.
“As far as I can tell there is no indication of policy violations by RCPD personnel, and this was an otherwise common police activity and interaction with a wanted subject,” RCPD Director Dennis Butler said in an email.
A crowd also began to gather around the scene of the incident, and additional units responded to help manage the crowd and because Stepney had been resisting.
“After he was placed in handcuffs and they were attempting to get him to the vehicle, (Stepney) lifted his legs up and the officers set him down on the ground (in a sitting position) so he wasn’t injured while he was having the medical emergency,” Pate said.
Police called EMS and MFD for medical assistance at 12:21 a.m. and they arrived on scene in three to four minutes. In that time, Pate said officers monitored Stepney until medical responders showed up. In the video, one officer and at times, a second officer, appear to keep Stepney upright during the incident.
“Officers get basic first aid and CPR training and they have another (optional) advanced course,” Pate said. “ ... If there’s something to where CPR is needed to be provided then CPR can be provided by the officer, but other than that they don’t have much more advanced training. We’re advised to monitor the individual to make sure their airway is clear and that they’re breathing and then wait for EMS to arrive to provide further medical assistance.”
EMS took Stepney to Ascension Via Christi Hospital for treatment. Officials later released after they did not discover a clear medical cause for the incident, and police took him to the Riley County Jail. Pate said mental health responders also evaluated Stepney because he had made suicidal comments after leaving the hospital.
Stepney was arrested on the offenses of interference with law enforcement officers and probation violation. He remained confined as of Tuesday morning on an $8,000 bond.
According to Kansas Department of Corrections records, the probation violation is related to previous convictions including battery, criminal trespass and criminal threat.