- Associated Press - Thursday, September 3, 2015

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut prosecutor ruled Thursday that New London officers were justified in using force to subdue a medical school graduate who died in police custody after struggling with officers and showing signs of mental illness.

New London State’s Attorney Michael Regan released his findings on the death in October of 31-year-old Lashano Gilbert of the Bahamas. Gilbert was arrested for attempted carjacking and assault.

Regan said police did not use deadly force on Gilbert, but used physical force including stun guns that was necessary to prevent him from harming himself and several officers, and to prevent him from escaping. Gilbert became unresponsive and died in an ambulance taking him to a hospital from the police station. Several officers suffered minor injuries.

Chief Medical Examiner James Gill determined that Gilbert’s death was caused by complications from a sickle cell disease condition that was aggravated by his struggle with police. Gill found no trauma or injury that would have caused his death.

Gill said Gilbert’s struggles with officers and a psychotic episode caused a physical reaction that prevented his blood from carrying enough oxygen to his body. Gill ruled the death a homicide, but that didn’t mean officers committed any crime.

Police said Gilbert was in New London to visit his aunt while traveling from Toronto to the Bahamas. On the evening of Oct. 3, he jumped into a woman’s car, talked “gibberish” and assaulted her, authorities said.

Gilbert ran at a responding officer, yelled incoherently and flailed his arms, then fell to the ground when the officer shot him with a stun gun, police said. Authorities said Gilbert talked about how a ghost went into his stomach and said he jumped into the woman’s car to get help.

Gilbert struggled with officers during his arrest and while being brought by ambulance to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London. Authorities said Gilbert calmed down at the hospital and was discharged back into the custody of police, who brought him to the police station.

Police say they had to subdue Gilbert with force again when he struggled with officers at the station and appeared to be trying to kill himself. He was brought back to Lawrence + Memorial, became unresponsive in the ambulance and was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Gilbert’s family has filed notice with New London officials that they plan to file a wrongful death lawsuit against police, The Day newspaper reported.

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