- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

OPELOUSAS, La. (AP) - Louisiana State Police are investigating how a man died in the custody of local police in Opelousas.

Dennis Lazard, 36, died while officers were pursuing reports of burglaries before dawn Wednesday, Opelousas Police Chief Donald Thompson said. Police department spokesman Corey Leger said no shots were fired as Lazard was taken into custody.

An autopsy is planned on Lazard, known to family and friends as “Mooney.”

One of his longtime friends, Mario Lastrapes, told The Daily World (https://bit.ly/1GkZp3X ) that he heard Lazard outside early Wednesday.

“He was beating on my door, screaming at the top of his lungs, ‘Open the door, man, I’m about to die,’” Lastrapes said. “I looked out the window to make sure there was no foul play about to go down.”

Lastrapes said that by the time he pulled on some clothes and returned to the door, Lazard had left.

Lazard’s girlfriend, Danielle Brown, said she had taken Lazard to Opelousas General Health System Tuesday night but he was not admitted. Opelousas police officers had pulled him over for a traffic stop, and they were at the hospital when Lazard left, she said.

“We went to the hospital when he was wiggin’ out,” Brown said. “OPD just let him run. All he wanted was help.”

She said he apparently went first to his sister’s house. Brown said the next she knew, Lazard was dead.

Whenever someone dies when a law enforcement agency is involved, state police step in to investigate, Thompson and other authorities on the scene said.

“We have statements about houses broken into,” Thompson said. “I don’t know about this guy’s medical history.” Multiple officers were involved in the arrest, he said.

A state police spokesman could not immediately be reached Wednesday.

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