NEW BRUNSWICK—A 35-year-old man from Ward Street died on November 21 after being physically restrained by his family and city police officers, while going through what authorities described as “emotional distress.”
Just over seventeen hours after Saiseram Somwar's death, the office of Middlesex Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey released a statement saying their investigation "determined police acted properly during their response to the family emergency."
The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office (MCPO) was quick to eliminate police actions as being a contribution to Somwar's death.
According to the statement, “Police responded to an emergency call in which an emotionally disturbed man was believed to be causing injury to himself and died after he was taken to a city hospital.”
At 7:31PM, family members of Mr. Somwar called police to report that he was in “emotional distress” and attempting to harm himself, according to the release.
"Can you go over to 163 Ward Street in the basement for a [emotionally disturbed person]?" a New Brunswick dispatcher asked car #996, according to police radio transmissions. "Caller said he's a male in his 40's. He's screaming and not making any sense."
About 10 minutes later, police were asking for emergency medical support. But when the ambulance was dispatched, EMS personnel were informed they were headed to the scene of "an overdose."
After the request for EMS, a dispatcher asked officers on scene if they needed further assistance.
At 7:42PM, officers responded, "Yeah we got [unit #22] with us. Just a [emotionally disturbed person], suicidal."
Upon arrival to the Ward Street residence, authorities say police found family members restraining Somwar on the floor, and proceeded to join the family in restraining Somwar until emergency workers arrived.
When Somwar began showing signs of cardiac arrest, police and emergency workers performed “cardio-pulmonary resuscitation,” and was then rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The Prosecutor's Office statement made no mention of the fact police also requested Narcan, a prescription drug that counters the effects of an overdose of opiods, such as heroine or morphine
At 7:57pm, police declared the situation an emergency and requested Narcan on the scence.
"Ward Street, just off of Remsen, can you roll a Narcan this way please?" asked an officer to the "road supervisor"
Two minutes later, New Brunswick Fire Department's Engine 1 was dispatched to the scene for a "cardiac arrest."
MCPO spokesperson James O'Neill did not immediately respond to a request for more information about the role drugs may have played in the death.
Not long after Somwar was transported to the hospital, he was declared dead at 8:17PM and officers returned to the home to take photographs.
The exact cause of death of Somwar is yet to be determined and no autopsy has been released at this time.
As we have reported, heroin use in New Brunswick has been an issue getting increasingly more and more attention.
Prosecutor Carey and other health and law enforcement officials hosted a symposium on the epidemic of heroin abuse on October 1 in New Brunswick. Later that month, citizens hosted a vigil on the Rutgers campus for victims of overdoses.
In November, elected officials in one of the two houses of the state legislature voted overwhelmingly to increase the penalties on those convicted of possession with intent to distribute the drug.
And just this week, local police announced raids on two homes in the Fourth Ward that yielded more than 1,300 decks of heroin.