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Investigation into East Moline police in-custody death concludes

The Rock Island State's Attorney's Office released its findings, saying the case 'does not support filing any charges at this time.'

EAST MOLINE, Ill. — The Rock Island County State's Attorney's Office has concluded there will be no charges filed against police after a man died in East Moline police custody on Sept. 6. 

Louis B. Griffin, 62, of Silvis, died while being taken into custody after being pursued as a suspect in a residential burglary.

Rock Island County coroner Brian Gustafson initially reported that the preliminary autopsy showed "significant cardiac issues."

A search warrant issued for Griffin's medical records confirmed that he had been previously diagnosed with cardiovascular and endocrinal conditions. 

The Office's report shows that Griffin was told to stop multiple times by an in-uniform officer, in a marked police vehicle using lights and sirens.

Below is the conclusion of the findings:

In this incident, Louis was identified as a suspect in a burglary and was fleeing from police. Officer Zimmer, while wearing his official police uniform, was in a marked police vehicle using lights and sirens, and used verbal commands for Griffin to stop. Griffin continued to flee on his bicycle for several blocks while being told to stop. 

Zimmer’s squad car was equipped with video which captured his encounter and his attempt to stop Griffin. Officer Zimmer was also wearing body worn camera that recorded the events. When Griffin stopped at the intersection of 15th Street, Zimmer is seen getting out and grabbing him for arrest. Handcuffs are placed on Griffin while he is on the grass, and other officers are observed arriving at the scene. Griffin was laid on the grass and his head/face was never restricted from breathing. It was almost immediately noticed by Zimmer and the other responding officers that Griffin was showing signs of distress. Within less than two minutes, officers are seen and heard calling for an ambulance and removing Griffin’s handcuffs to begin life-saving measures. Further investigation at the scene by ITF recovered evidence of recent drug use by Griffin. His medical records supported the conclusion of death by natural causes due to ongoing heart conditions. 

An officer has the right to pursue and arrest a suspect believed to be actively involved or leaving the scene of a crime. The video footage of Zimmer’s arrest of Griffin does not appear to show any signs of excessive force. Zimmer and other officers on scene noticed Griffin was in distress and began calling for medical assistance within minutes of his arrest. 

In reviewing the videos, evidence and records that were obtained by ITF, it is reasonable to conclude that Griffin died of natural causes on 9/6/23. He was an older male who was overexerting himself while fleeing from a police car, on a bicycle. He was also found with suspected methamphetamine in his pocket and inside a backpack he was carrying, and glass pipes that showed signs of recent use. Griffin’s medical history also supports the conclusion that he died of natural causes, due to previous heart and other health conditions, combined with potential drug use and overexertion. 

The evidence in this case does not support filing any charges at this time. The State’s Attorney will continue to review any additional information that is obtained or discovered regarding this incident. If any new or relevant evidence is discovered, the case will be reviewed for further consideration. 

Below is police body camera video of the encounter, edited for language:

Below is a video of the dash cam pursuit (No sound is on the video):

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