SALT LAKE CITY — A man suspected of shoplifting from a downtown hardware store and getting into a fight with employees was unresponsive and had no pulse by the time police arrived, according to Salt Lake City police.
On May 2, Mischa Ryan Cox, 30, tried to walk out of Ace Hardware, 612 E. 400 South, with items he had shoplifted, according to police. But when two employees attempted to detain him in the parking lot, a struggle ensued. During the struggle, two bystanders attempted to assist store employees.
On Friday, Salt Lake police released three body camera videos from officers who responded to the incident and a 911 call made from a witness.
A store employee initially called police. But as the fight in the parking lot progressed, a woman called 911.
"I heard the employee call it in and he didn’t describe how bad it actually was,” the woman told dispatchers.
The unidentified woman is heard on the 911 recording saying that both men were on the ground fighting.
"It seems like it could be dangerous," she said.
She said she did not know if the suspect needed medical attention.
Four minutes after police were dispatched, the first officer arrived and immediately placed Cox, who was on the ground, in handcuffs as a precaution. But as soon as Cox had his hands handcuffed behind his back, the officer realized that he had no pulse and was not breathing. At that point, he turned on his body camera, according to police.
In the video, Cox has a lot of blood around his mouth as well as blood on the pavement next to him. He is unconscious and not moving.
"I don’t know what he was on but he was (expletive) attacking us," one person is heard telling police.
Officers give Cox chest compressions for two to three minutes until paramedics arrive.
"Negative pulse, negative respiration," an officer can be heard telling dispatchers.
After giving chest compressions for two minutes, an officer stops to check Cox's pulse.
"I got nothin,'" he tells another officer.
At one point, an officer is heard asking if they want to take the handcuffs off or wait until paramedics arrive. The officers decide to wait for EMTs.
"We’ll just keep working on it the best we can," an officer says on another video.
Cox died four days later. His cause of death had not been released as of Friday.Comment on this story
Because he was placed in handcuffs and later died, an officer-involved critical incident protocol was invoked. If Cox had never been handcuffed, it would not be classified that way. Unified police were investigating the incident. Salt Lake police say all of Cox's injuries happened prior to police arriving on scene.
The officer who handcuffed Cox was not placed on administrative leave, as is common with most officer-involved critical incidents.
The Salt Lake District Attorney's Office was also expected to review the case to determine if any charges should be filed.