Shoplifting suspect dies in police custody

DOVER — City police announced Wednesday that a 24-year-old man died in custody after a shoplifting arrest on Sept. 20.

Dover Police Chief Marvin C. Mailey said detectives delayed public notification of John T. Manning III’s passing while waiting for toxicology and official cause of death information, but opted to wait no longer.

“But once they found out it would be a longer period of time before they got that, they didn’t want to wait any longer to release it publicly,” Chief Mailey said in a statement.

“They were hoping they would have the results sooner.”

While the Medical Examiner’s report is still pending, Dover PD spokesman Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman said no foul play is suspected.

“Based on everything we know at this time, he appears to have experienced an unknown medical incident of some kind,” Cpl. Hoffman said.

Mr. Manning was arrested without incident after Dover police officers responded to a shoplifting complaint at Sams Club at 1572 N. DuPont Highway at just after 11:30 a.m., authorities said.

“He was not combative or uncooperative and did not resist at any point,” Cpl. Hoffman said. “At no point did any officer have to go hands on to make an arrest.”

An officer transported Mr. Manning to the police station at 400 S. Queen Street, authorities said, and he was taken to one of four single-person holding cells and held alone waiting to be processed and arraigned.

The incident time was listed as 2:03 p.m.

“Manning was found unresponsive and not breathing,” Cpl. Hoffman said. “Officer’s immediately rendered aid by performing CPR and notifying EMS officials.”

Mr. Manning was taken by medics to Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

It was not immediately known whether any other arrestees were in other cells next to Mr. Manning’s or if the nearby group cell that can hold five to six detainees was occupied.

While police policy dictates cell checks be made every 20 to 30 minutes depending on the situation, which Cpl. Hoffman said officers conducted, there were officers and regular activity throughout the cell block where Mr. Manning was being held. Police estimated Mr. Manning may have been at the station for up to two hours or so before he was found in distress.

Regarding an arrestee’s death, Cpl. Hoffman said, “It’s definitely not a common thing with us, but it’s not unheard of in law enforcement when dealing with people in sometimes altered states of consciousness and well being. It is unusual here, though.”

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