Ocean City Today
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Man dies in OCPD transport van following hospital exams

By Katie Tabeling | Sep 07, 2017

(Sept. 8, 2017) Detectives from the Maryland State Police Homicide Unit are investigating the death of a local man who was in Ocean City Police custody early Tuesday morning.

Byron K. Tunnell, 28, died around 1 a.m., moments after he was discharged from Atlantic General Hospital following a medical examination. He reportedly had a seizure in the back of a police transport van en route to the Public Safety Building on 65th Street for booking.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore began Tunnell’s autopsy on Wednesday. State Police Media Communications Director Greg Shipley said that while he hopes the “autopsy be done soon” there was no way to tell when it would be finished.

Tunnell was arrested after he was reportedly driving without a license the night before. He was driving a 2004 Chrysler on Baltimore Avenue near 20th Street around 11 p.m. Ocean City police said they initiated a traffic stop, but Tunnell kept driving until he reached the 400 block of Bayshore Drive.

Tunnell told police he knew his license was suspended and he wanted to get his car back to his house, according to press statements. Police then told Tunnell he was under arrest, but he resisted when they tried to handcuff him, a department statement said.

When Tunnell resisted, an officer fired a Taser, but it “did not have its usual effect” in stunning him, according to Maryland State Police. Tunnell then reportedly ran and tried to escape under a porch, but was caught by officers.

OCPD officers said they saw Tunnell discard what appeared to be drugs when he fled. Police later found two small baggies of suspected crack cocaine and a glass smoking device from the scene.

After Tunnell was handcuffed, police called emergency medical services to the scene, per protocol after Taser deployment. Paramedics examined Tunnell and determined he did not need further medical intervention, according to police reports.

However, Tunnell asked to go to the hospital and officers agreed to take him in a transport van. After another medical examination, Tunnell was turned over to Ocean City police shortly before 1 a.m. on Tuesday.

Police said the officers put Tunnell back in the transport van and drove off to the Public Safety Building. The preliminary investigation indicates Tunnell was monitored through the audio and video system in the van by an OCPD officer and a public safety aide in the vehicle.

During the drive, Tunnell reportedly told officers he was not feeling well. Police said he indicated that he may have swallowed drugs prior to his arrest.

Minutes later, Tunnell had a seizure. Police stopped the van on Baltimore Avenue near 12th Street, called for paramedics and the officers began performing CPR on Tunnell until Ocean City EMS arrived to take him back to the hospital.

The local department asked the state police to take the lead on the investigation.

Maryland State Police Criminal Enforcement Division, the Worcester County Bureau of Investigation and the OCPD Criminal Investigation Division and the OCPD Criminal Investigation Division are assisting in the investigation.

MSP investigators have also been in contact with the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office.

 

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