Name released of man who died in police custody

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - Police released the name of the suspect that died in Poplar Bluff police custody Thursday.

Charles Andrew Riels, 40, of Poplar Bluff died while in police custody, according to the Poplar Bluff Police Department.

Butler County Coroner Jim Akers says he suspects Charles Riels may have been high on bath salts. Akers says tests to determine that will be run as part of Riels' autopsy.

Poplar Bluff police were called to Casey's General Store on South Broadway Street around 2:50 p.m. for a report of a man creating a disturbance, disrobing and creating property damage, according to Chief Danny Whiteley with the Poplar Bluff Police Department.

The caller told police the suspect was damaging items in the store. When officers arrived at the parking lot of the store, the man was stripped down to his shorts, yelling incoherently and appearing to be delusional, according to Whiteley.

"He had to be on some kind of drug because he had extraordinary strength," said David Perry, a witness. "The guy was smaller frame then I am and he picked me up like I was nothing."

Officers handcuffed the 40-year-old man and put him in a patrol car and determined he needed to go to a hospital.

That's when police say the suspect started kicking at windows and security screen out of the car.

Whiteley says this forced the officers to stop the car to try to secure the man. As the officers opened the car door, he began kicking at them. At one point, officer did use a Taser say it was ineffective. After a struggle, officers called for an ambulance to transport him to the hospital.

According to the chief, the man became unresponsive and officers began administering CPR to him.  He was transported by ambulance to Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.

Poplar Bluff Police Chief Danny Whiteley contacted Butler County Coroner Jim Akers and the Missouri State Highway Patrol and requested the Division of Drug and Crime Control to handle the investigation.

An autopsy was scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday.

Police say the same man was behaving erratically the day before prior to the July 4 parade. Police took the man into custody on outstanding warrants on Wednesday and called an ambulance to transport him to Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center. He got out of the hospital and showed up at Casey's General Store the next day.

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