Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Mother of Man Who Died in Police Custody Receives $1.25 Million in Settlement of Wrongful Death Claim

Posted by Charles Gilman | Sep 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

Ron Singleton was 45 years old in 2014 when he died while in police custody after a physical altercation with officers. It was determined that Singleton was under the influence of the drug “angel dust” at the time. Several New York police officers responded to a call regarding a man acting erratically while riding in a taxi cab. 

Upon the arrival of the officers, Singleton fought with them for several minutes before being placed in a straightjacket and taken into custody, where he died suddenly. His mother, Rebecca Singleton, brought a wrongful death suit against the city, citing them for excessive force that led to his death in Manhattan Surrogate's Court. The autopsy report indicated that the death was a homicide based on severe physical restraint, delirium, obesity, and a heart condition he had. The claim was settled recently for $1.25 million.

The lawsuit contends that the officers threw him to the ground and placed him in handcuffs using excessive force. While Singleton was being pinned to the ground, his body went limp. He was placed in a restrictive body wrap and emergency responders on the scene felt he should be evaluated and placed him into an ambulance. He was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner formally announced that his death was a homicide, explaining that it was not from natural causes, not an accident, or a suicide.

There was a dispute between Singleton's mother and his widow because they were not legally married. The city morgue was unable to release his body to Lyn Singleton, who claimed to be his wife because the marriage document that she presented was determined to be invalid. Rebecca Singleton explained that it was her belief that the marriage was not formally registered, despite having a ceremony. 

Rebecca felt determined to bring the wrongful death claim to pursue financial assistance for his children. The allocation of the award provides $450,230 for his wife and roughly $150,000 and $190,000 for each of his two minor children. The city department of law said that they had thoroughly reviewed the unfortunate incident and came to the conclusion that the settlement would be the best way to resolve the claim for all parties involved.

The drug that Singleton was reported to have taken was Phencyclidine (PCP), also referred to as "angel dust". It is an illegal substance that is capable of causing hallucinations and feelings of being detached from oneself. Originally it was created as an anesthetic used in surgery; however, it was not particularly effective for this purpose. In the realm of recreational abuse, it has a reputation as being known to result in violent and psychotic behavior. Emergency department data shows that most of the users needing medical treatment were males in their 20s or 30s.

About the Author

Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.

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