Matthew Sheridan, 20, of Mequon, Wi., died after an officer put what was believed to be a spit bag over his head, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The device, meant to protect officers from saliva, turned out to be a high-tech respirator called the SURVIVAIR Quick2000 escape hood. Its manufacturer said that if used improperly, it could cause death or serious injury. An attorney for the dead man’s parents, Rick Domnitz, said, “Clearly that mask was not intended to be used as spit guard. It appears, at first blush, a tragic error was made.” An autopsy was conducted, but authorities have said the results so far are inconclusive. They are awaiting results from toxicology tests.
Mequon police decided to use more than just handcuffs on Sheridan because he became unruly in the squad car last Saturday. Sheridan had been arrested on a drug paraphernalia possession charge when police stopped a vehicle in which he was riding after a gas station attendant reported that the vehicle drove off without paying for $10 in gas. Police later determined that there was no gas theft.