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Officers involved in arrest of Colorado Springs man who died in custody not charged

Posted at 4:59 PM, Aug 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-25 19:00:39-04

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — The 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office is not pursuing charges against the Colorado Springs police officers who were involved in the arrest of a man who died in custody in May.

Prosecutors found that the officers — Joseph Daigle and Matthew Fleming — used reasonable force in the arrest of Chad Burnett, 49, on May 25.

The officers used a Taser on Burnett, who died suddenly.

The El Paso County coroner ruled Burnett's death a homicide, since it happened during a physical encounter with the officers.

The coroner also listed cardiac hypertophy, myocardial fibrosis and acute psychotic episode as associated factors in Burnett's death.

Officers responded about 9:55 a.m. on May 24 to a weapons display call for service in the 2700 block of Ashgrove Street, where a caller reported a disturbance between neighbors and Burnett.

Officers contacted Burnett — who was 6-foot-8, 220 pounds, according to the coroner's report — and tried to arrest him, but he resisted and a physical altercation ensued, according to a news release from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.

An officer used a Taser during the incident, but Burnett was still struggling with the officers, authorities said.

When officers gained control of him, he "became limp," the sheriff's office said. Officers performed CPR on Burnett but he was unresponsive and died at the scene.

The district attorney's office found that the officers' actions "did not even rise to the level of deadly force."

"There is no evidence of officers using any chokeholds or asphyxiating techniques," prosecutors wrote in a letter. "Without Mr. Burnett’s severe heart disease, which was unknown to the officers and would not have been physically apparent to them, the evidence indicates that Mr. Burnett would not have died from this encounter."