A suspect died Thursday night after struggling with officers at the Waymon Manor Apartments in the 1800 block of East Avenue K in Temple.
Multiple witnesses claimed to Channel 6 News that the officers beat the man. After dodging questions by phone Friday afternoon, a Temple Police Department spokesperson released a statement Friday night disputing those accusations.
"The Temple Police Department has been contacted by several news agencies indicating that they are receiving reports from individuals that Temple Police Department officers acted improperly during the arrest of Mr. Gayle who subsequent passed away on Thursday, September 28," Temple Police Spokesperson Shawana Neely wrote in an email. "At this stage of the investigation, there are no obvious indications that our officer acted outside the scope of their duties."
Police were first dispatched to a disturbance at the apartment complex around 7:34 p.m. Officers made contact with 40-year-old Stephen Gayle -- the man who died.
Neely claimed Gayle was uncooperative and appeared to be under the influence of some substance. When police tried to detain him, Gayle resisted and began to struggle with the officers on scene, according to Neely.
While struggling with the officers, Gayle began to show signs of medical distress -- causing the officers to call EMS, according to police. Gayle was transported to Baylor Scott and White Hospital in Temple, where he was pronounced dead at 9:07 p.m.
Channel 6 News spoke to a mother and her 10-year-old daughter who claimed to witness the entire incident.
"The cop, he got out the car, he body-slammed [Gayle] and put him up in the car," the witness's daughter Shania Hawkins said. "Then [the officer] took him out. He was screaming for his mom, and then he died."
Channel 6 obtained video from another witness that shows police performing CPR on Gayle.
Gayle's body was sent away for an autopsy.
The Texas Rangers and Temple Police Department’s Violent Crime Squad were investigating the death, as of Friday evening.
"It is the position of the Temple Police Department that anytime a member of our community dies while in our custody, a third party, in this case the Department of Public Safety Texas Rangers, come in to conduct a complete and independent investigation of the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident," Neely said in a statement. "Our Department has, and will continue to cooperate fully with the Texas Rangers in the investigation of this incident."
Temple Police Chief Floyd Mitchell told Channel 6 News his officers were wearing body cameras and all available video from the department has been turned over to Texas Rangers. He also asked that anyone who may have video from the scene to turn it over to police.
The Temple Police Department can be reached at 254-298-5500.