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Death of man in custody a mystery
Autopsy inconclusive, but 'no significant injuries' seen

LAWRENCEVILLE - Witnesses said Keith Henry Jr., was acting erratically Saturday afternoon at a Kroger grocery store in Lilburn. He reportedly screamed profanities, banged on car windows and dropped his pants around his ankles in the parking lot.

About 30 minutes later, Henry lay in the backseat of a Gwinnett police cruiser in a puddle of his vomit.

An hour after that, he was dead.

Exactly how the 31-year-old Lawrenceville man, who had one arm, died is under investigation, officials said.

The Gwinnett County Police department issued a press release regarding Henry's death Thursday. A police report of the Saturday incident has been requested by the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Witnesses and police who observed Henry at the 3050 Five Forks Trickum Road grocery said his "unusual and erratic behavior was consistent with someone who may have been under the influence of drugs," police said Thursday. A toxicology report is pending.

Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Robert Rude said officers did not use weapons or Tasers when subduing the suspect just after 5:30 p.m.

Police said the suspect was combative both in the parking lot and en route to the Gwinnett County Jail, where deputies found him unresponsive about 6 p.m. at the jail's sally port.

Henry's right arm was cuffed to the patrol car's cage, his feet bound by handcuffs, and he lay in the backseat on his stomach. Deputies and nurses administered CPR until medics transported Henry to Gwinnett Medical Center, according to a Sheriff's Department report.

Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Stacey Bourbonnais said police called in a "delta," meaning the suspect was combative en route to jail. He was never technically released from police custody, she said.

"Anytime a delta's brought in, we usually meet the patrol car in the sally port with a video camera," said Bourbonnais. "There is a videotape."

Henry was pronounced dead at the hospital at 7:03 p.m.

The Gwinnett County Police Department's office of professional standards is investigating Henry's death. Records show Gwinnett police have not arrested him before, Rude said.

Ted Bailey, Gwinnett's Chief Forensic Investigator, said his office has performed an autopsy, but Henry's cause of death remains unclear.

"The cause and manner of death is pending further studies, including toxicology," Bailey said. "There were no significant injuries to his body."

Based on the videotape and witness statements, the Sheriff's Department's professional standards unit concluded that staff performed in an "appropriate and consistent manner" while dealing with Henry.