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Death of man in custody under investigation

February 27, 2013
By Eric Tichy ( , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

The Chautauqua County District Attorney's Office is investigating the death of a Jamestown man who died hours after being detained by city police Saturday, Feb. 16.

An autopsy was performed Monday, Feb. 18 on Charles A. Baker Jr., 30, at the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo. The cause of death has not yet been released.

Police said Baker was allegedly found in possession of cocaine and was combative shortly after his detainment following a traffic stop. Officers at one point used a stun gun to subdue Baker.

David Foley, Chautauqua County district attorney, said in a news release his office has now begun reviewing the incident with the Jamestown Police Department.

"I have instructed my investigator to collect all the information from the Jamestown Police Department, including any video footage of the initial encounter in the department," Foley said. "We will await the autopsy results before any decisions can be made on how to proceed."

According to Jamestown police, officers conducted a vehicle stop at 12:14 p.m. Saturday for a traffic violation. The operator, who was later identified as Cindy S. Frank, 40, of Jamestown, gave officers a false name. Frank was charged with false impersonation.

Baker was in the front passenger seat of the vehicle, and was detained for an undisclosed violation. During their investigation, police learned Baker smeared several baggies of what appeared to be cocaine in the back seat of the patrol car in an attempt to destroy physical evidence.

According to the state Department of Corrections, Baker had been jailed three times since 2003 for criminal sale of a controlled substance. He was charged Saturday with felony tampering of physical evidence and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, and was transported to City Jail.

Once inside the police garage, additional baggies of cocaine fell to the ground. When an officer attempted to pick the baggies up, Baker allegedly stepped on the evidence and the officer's hand.

Baker eventually was brought into police headquarters and was processed. During the course of inventory, more baggies of cocaine were found.

Police said Baker then became combative in the booking room, and was subdued with the use of an electronic control device, or a stun gun. The Jamestown man - who was not handcuffed at the time - was brought under control after a single use of the ECD, police said.

After becoming combative again, Baker was placed in a jail restraint chair.

At 3:09 p.m., almost three hours after being detained by officers, Baker was placed in a holding cell for further observation. Within seconds, though, he went into seizure. Baker was taken to WCA Hospital by Alstar Ambulance.

Police were advised by 4:55 p.m. that Baker had suffered a second seizure while in the hospital. A half an hour later, police were told he was dead.

A medical examiner confirmed Monday that an autopsy had taken place at ECMC.

Capt. Robert Samuelson of the Jamestown police said his department was cooperating with the district attorney's office. All questions regarding Saturday's incident were directed to Foley.



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