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'A haunting similarity to George Floyd': Death of man restrained by mental crisis team ruled a homicide

Composite screenshot of Denver Post and 9NEWS YouTube videos

The death of a Colorado man who died while under physical restraint by members of a crisis response team last fall has officially been ruled a homicide, though no charges will be filed in connection to the incident.

On the evening of November 15, Colorado Springs police received a call about a man "experiencing a mental health episode," a police report stated. Per department policy, a Community Response Team — composed of a police officer, paramedic, and mental health clinician — was then dispatched to investigate the issue.

When members of the CRT arrived, they found Kevin Dizmang, 63, wandering into traffic and possibly evincing suicidal behavior. Bodycam footage indicates that Dizmang was behaving erratically and repeatedly resisted an officer as he attempted to place handcuffs on him while another member of the team redirected traffic.

Dizmang continued to disregard the officer's orders, so a man in a red jacket, later identified as the paramedic, restrained Dizmang and brought him to the ground. At some point while the officer placed Dizmang in handcuffs, the man stopped moving.

Warning: Disturbing content

Dizmang never recovered consciousness. CRT members eventually began performing CPR at the scene, and Dizmang was soon afterward transported to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced deceased.

Now, an autopsy report has ruled Dizmang's death of cardiopulmonary arrest a homicide. The five doctors who signed the autopsy acknowledged that several factors likely contributed to Dizmang's death, including obesity and a history of COPD and asthma. He also suffered from PTSD, depression, and anxiety and had several prior encounters with law enforcement. Toxicology tests revealed that Dizmang had meth in his system when he died.

But because Dizmang had been restrained, the death has been classified as a homicide. "The contribution of physical restraint to the cause of death results in the determination of a manner of homicide," the report stated.

Despite the homicide classification, the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office has reviewed the bodycam footage and determined that the actions taken by CRT personnel were justified. Therefore, no criminal charges will be filed, though the officer and the paramedic were placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

Harry Daniels and Bakari Sellers, attorneys hired by the Dizmang family, blasted the actions taken by the CRT during Dizmang's crisis, claiming in a statement that those actions bore "a haunting similarity to George Floyd’s 2020 murder at the hands of officers with the Minneapolis Police Department."

"The people who came to help him are the people who ended up killing him," Daniels later added.

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