Police: Man was observed at hospital before death in custody
A man who died in the custody of a Connecticut police department had been observed at a hospital for five hours the night before he was found unresponsive in a cell, state police said Monday.
Authorities identified the man as Justin Griffin, 31, who was pulled over for speeding in Milford on Saturday afternoon and detained when police discovered there was a warrant for his arrest. Officials said he was wanted for failing to register with the state’s deadly weapon offender registry.
State police, who were called in to investigate the death, said Griffin became lethargic while being booked at the Milford police station. He was taken to the Bridgeport Hospital Milford Campus, where medical staff observed him for about five hours before he was discharged and taken back to the police department, state police said.
During a check early Sunday, “officers discovered that Griffin was not breathing,” state police said in a statement. “Officers began CPR and Griffin was subsequently transported to Milford Hospital where he was pronounced deceased shortly after 6:00 a.m.”
Messages seeking comment were left for hospital officials.
Officer Mike DeVito, a spokesman for Milford police, said Griffin was monitored on video through the night by a booking officer and a sergeant, and the booking officer physically checked on Griffin every 15 minutes, as per department policy.
“He was breathing the whole time,” DeVito said. “Suddenly, on one of the last checks, he was found to be unresponsive.”
Officers used a defibrillator on Griffin, but there was no response and Griffin was taken back to the hospital, DeVito said.
Griffin’s body was taken to the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy to determine how he died.
Court records show Griffin had a pending probation violation case in Milford Superior Court related to a 2016 conviction for misdemeanor threatening.
His criminal history included an 18-month prison sentence handed down in January 2018 for gun crimes and a 90-day sentence for driving under the influence in 2017. The gun crimes were carrying a pistol without a permit and illegal possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle.
Connecticut requires anyone convicted of a crime involving a deadly weapon to register with the state’s deadly weapon offender registry and to update their information every year.
This story has been updated to correct that Griffin was in the custody of Milford police, not state police.