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Coroner says heart failure caused death of man in police custody

Heart failure was the primary cause of death for a 29-year-old man who died in November while being subdued by a Las Vegas police officer, the Clark County coroner’s office said Tuesday.

Being restrained by the neck during the struggle also played a role in the death of Dustin Boone, the coroner’s office concluded.

The office said Boone’s Nov. 3 death was a homicide and will be reviewed at a coroner’s inquest on Dec. 18. The determination by the coroner’s office does not equate to murder because homicide is a medical term.

Inquests are held to determine whether the actions of police are justified, excusable or criminal in nature.

Metropolitan Police Department spokesmen declined to comment Tuesday, citing the upcoming inquest.

According to the coroner, Boone died of cardiopulmonary arrest, also known as cardiac arrest. The American Heart Association’s Web site said cardiac arrest is a sudden, abrupt loss of heart function.

The office also said that a neck restraint as well as dilated cardiomyopathy contributed to Boone’s death. The heart association describes cardiomyopathy as a condition in which the heart becomes weakened and enlarged.

It is estimated that more than 95 percent of cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital, according to the heart association.

Police have said Boone was heavyset, combative and had underlying medical conditions.

A social worker called police about Boone because he was acting erratically and not taking his medications. Police arrived at his home at 6:20 p.m. at 7740 Scoby Court, near Tropicana Avenue and Buffalo Drive.

Police were told Boone had opened gas lines in the house. They negotiated with Boone for about an hour before several officers went around the house and found an unlocked door, police said.

Once inside, the officers and the man had a "physical altercation." An officer used a technique known as the lateral vascular neck restraint to subdue and handcuff him.

The technique is taught to officers as a means to subdue combative individuals. Medical units that had been standing by determined that Boone had stopped breathing. He died after he was taken to the hospital.

The neck restraint is known in martial arts as a sleeper hold. It compresses the carotid arteries on the sides of the neck, restricting blood flow to the brain and causing the subject to pass out.

Three officers and one sergeant were placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the coroner’s inquest. The officers are Michael Rowley, 32; Kevin Koval; 32, and Jerry Ybarra, 32. Sgt. Mike Dailey, 53 was also placed on leave.

Contact reporter Antonio Planas at aplanas@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638.

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