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Investigation underway after man dies in police custody

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – An investigation is underway after a man died in police custody Sunday morning, just about an hour after first responders were called to help him escape from an elevator.

Providence Police Chief Col. Hugh Clements told Eyewitness News that police and firefighters were called to the Carroll Tower apartment building at 243 Smith Street at about 4 a.m. for a report of a man stuck in an elevator.

Firefighters shut down the power to get the elevator doors open.

“Once the doors were open, fire and police encountered a combative, agitated man inside,” Col. Clements said.

The middle-aged man has not yet been identified, and police are not releasing details about what he did after he left the elevator that led to his arrest.

The man was taken into custody and placed in a police cruiser. Clements says he was taken to Rhode Island Hospital where he was pronounced dead at about 5 a.m.

When asked what happened to him in the cruiser, Col. Clements said the Medical Examiner would be doing an autopsy and determining the cause of death.

“It’s very unfortunate,” Col. Clements said.

“He was a confused guy,” said Millie Rossi, a resident of Carroll Tower who says she’s known the man for years and saw him Saturday night in the laundry room.

Rossi immediately agreed with the police chief’s description of the man as “combative” and “agitated.”

Col. Clements said police will likely identify the man Monday, after all family is notified.

As statewide policy dictates, the Attorney General’s office will do a review of the incident and oversee the police investigation. Rhode Island State Police are also assisting in the investigation.

Carroll Tower is operated by the Providence Housing Authority, a city agency.

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