Fairbanks police, state investigate death of man handcuffed after disturbance

Ron Dupee
Fairbanks Police Department Chief Ron Dupee (From FPD)

Fairbanks police are continuing to examine the death of a domestic-violence suspect who became unresponsive when being arrested by officers last week.

Police Chief Ron Dupee said officers responded late Thursday to a Turner Street apartment night where a man said his son, 30-year-old Timothy McArdle Jr., had threatened him with a knife and was damaging his home. Dupee said officers tried to contact McArdle.

“He came to the door a couple of times, but refused to come out, refused to talk to officers,” Dupee said. “He could just be heard inside breaking things, further destroying the apartment inside.”    

According to a police statement, the damage included throwing items out of windows and breaking water pipes.

Dupee said police are required to arrest the suspect in domestic violence cases, and officers entered the apartment to do so. He said they attempted to use less-lethal force on McArdle, but declined to be specific on which means were used due to the ongoing investigation.

“We have pepper spray, Tasers, batons, beanbag rounds, pepper-ball gun,” Dupee said. “We have a lot of different options we can utilize in a circumstance like this.”

Dupee said officers ultimately secured McArdle in a struggle as he fought them. 

“Once they got him handcuffed, they found that he was unresponsive,” he said. “They checked for a pulse, began CPR and called for EMS.”

Dupee said five officers were involved in handcuffing McArdle, which took about two minutes. He said McArdle’s father suspected his son had been smoking methamphetamine.

Dupee said police are awaiting the results of an autopsy by the state medical examiner.

“That’s going to be the key to this whole incident, is what he actually died from,” he said.

According to Dupee, preliminary autopsy results are expected by the end of the week. He said police and investigators from the state Office of Special Prosecutions have been interviewing everyone involved in the arrest and reviewing officers’ body-camera video.

“We will put together a press release and release part of the video,” Dupee said.

The chief would not put a date on when that information will be made public. He urged patience, as the department deals with a continuing staffing crisis that has kept patrol officers off local streets for four hours a day.

“You know, we’re still short-staffed, so we have a minimum number of officers working, minimum number of detectives,” he said. “So we’re doing the best we can, and we’ll get results out as quick as we can.”    

Dupee said all the officers involved, some of whom suffered minor injuries, have been cleared to return to duty after taking 72 hours off as required following a fatal incident.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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