Texas Rangers investigating death of man in Denton police custody after ‘medical episode’

Getty Images | Royalty Free/Getty Images/iStockphoto
·2 min read

The Texas Rangers are investigating the death of a man who experienced a medical episode while in the custody of Denton police, according to a news release from police.

James Anthony Senase III, identified by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office, died while in handcuffs and ankle restraints after experiencing a “medical episode,” according to police.

Officers responded to a disturbance call around 11:40 p.m. Tuesday after a caller told dispatchers a man at a hotel in the 600 block of South Intestate 35E was “out of it” and breaking glass, according to the release. When officers arrived, they found two hotel room windows broken with a mattress thrown outside and broken glass on the sidewalk below.

They could hear Senase, the only person in the room, yelling and screaming and called for medics to stage nearby, according to the release. Officers got a key to the room from hotel staff, who told police they wanted Senase removed from the property and charged with criminal mischief. The officers could hear the him continuing to scream and yelling for help.

According to police, officers entered the hotel room to find blood on the mattress and dismantled bedframe and the room damaged. When they entered the room, police tried to speak with Senase but said they weren’t able to get a coherent response from him and heard more damage happening in the bathroom.

At one point, Senase pushed a large piece of glass under the bathroom door and officers left the room “to isolate (him) and allow him time to calm down,” according to the release.

After about 30 minutes of trying to negotiate with Senase from the hallway, police said in the release that he got quiet and seemed to them to have calmed down. They entered the room again to find Senase lying on the bed and “sweating profusely” and telling police to shoot him.

They used double-lock handcuffs on him without resistance or any use of force on the part of the officers, but the man started attempting to roll around and kick officers, according to the release. Police said they used a leg restraint, wrapped around his ankles for his own safety. They did not elaborate in the release how this was done for his safety.

After he was restrained, the man had a “medical episode and became unresponsive,” according to the release. The medics staged in the area shortly after officers arrived took Senase to the hospital for treatment, according to the release. Police were informed Wednesday that he died at the hospital.

Police said they are not yet releasing the body camera footage from officers who were on the scene because the Texas Rangers have taken over the investigation into Senase’s death. The Star-Telegram has filed an open records request for the body camera footage.