A 35-year-old Depew man who had been jailed on burglary charges by Depew police died late Friday afternoon after being transported from the Holding Center to Erie County Medical Center Wednesday for a mental health evaluation.
Richard A. Metcalf Jr. suffered a massive heart attack in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, Buffalo attorney and family spokesman Thomas J. Casey said. Family also said Metcalf recently had begun showing signs of mental illness.
An investigation has already begun, said Thomas Diina, Erie County Sheriff Superintendant of Jail Management, and an autopsy was to be conducted.
Booking photos show Metcalf was bruised and cut before he was taken to the Holding Center, the Sheriff’s Office said.
“The booking photo shows that he had a rough ride before coming to us,” Diina said.
Casey said the family was distraught but had a lot of questions and wanted a full investigation.
Depew police arrested Metcalf, of Marrano Drive, Depew, formerly of Lancaster, on burglary charges Tuesday.
Metcalf was “acting strange” when he was arrested, Depew Police Chief Stanley Carwile said Saturday.
“He smashed and stripped the door to make his way into the building [an exterior walk-in freezer at St. Joseph’s Country Manor and Grove catering on Columbia Avenue]. An officer went looking for him. First he tried to run away, and then he turned and chased an officer with a wrench,” Carwile said.
Carwile said the officer used a Taser to subdue Metcalf and forcibly handcuffed him.
Because he was exhibiting strange and combative behavior and had an elevated heart rate, police said they took him to ECMC. After an evaluation there, the hospital released him back to the custody of Depew police for arraignment later on Tuesday.
Metcalf then was taken to the Holding Center.
While in the Holding Center, Metcalf continued to show signs of mental illness and was again combative with officers, authorities said.
Guards noticed Metcalf on Wednesday picking scabs on his arms with a plastic fork and biting himself and wiping blood on the cell walls.
When they attempted to restrain Metcalf, he refused, yelling, “I’m radioactive” and began striking his head against the cell bars and wall, according to Sgt. Robert Dee.
Officers forcibly took Metcalf into custody, handcuffed him and then transported him to ECMC for medical care. On his way to ECMC, he suffered a medical emergency, according to Erie County sheriff officials. He remained in intensive care until his death at 5:17 p.m. Friday, according to officials.
Family members told The Buffalo News that they had seen him exhibiting signs of mental illness for the past week and became even more concerned about his welfare after he was moved to the Holding Center, which has reported a number of suicides.