43-year-old man dies 2 weeks after incident with Altoona, Eau Claire police

Preliminary autopsy results indicate trauma didn't cause death, says Wisconsin DOJ, with lab tests pending

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WKBT) — A 43-year-old man has died after a police-involved incident in Altoona, Wis., in which Eau Claire officers provided assistance, but a state Department of Justice report says he didn’t die from traumatic injuries.

Demetrio A. Jackson died at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire on Oct. 22 — two weeks after the incident, according to a news release Tuesday from the Eau Claire Police Department.

The incident occurred Oct. 8, when the Eau Claire County Communications Center received a report at about 3:30 a.m. of a person acting strangely and causing damage while standing on top of a vehicle in the 900 block of Harlem Street in Altoona.

Altoona police and the Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office responded, but Altoona officers also called for emergency assistance

Eau Claire officers Gracia Larson, Robert Schreier and Michael Cullen arrived at the scene at about 4:20 a.m., acting on information from the communications center that Center provided information someone was being and combative with officers, according to the news release.

The Eau Claire officers observed Jackson screaming and writhing on the ground. Jackson did not appear to comprehend any officer commands, which also is apparent in a video accompanying the release, sent out over the name of Eau Claire Police Chief Matt Rokus.

Eau Claire officers coordinated with other law enforcement on scene to take Jackson into custody. They worked together to calm Jackson and ensure that they handcuffed him without injuring himself.

“During the interaction, Jackson complained that he was having difficulty breathing, and officers ensured no pressure was applied to Jackson’s head, neck or chest during the interaction that would impede his breathing,” the news release says.

Jackson was conscious, and officers placed him in a recovery position until EMS personnel could approach.

“Because Jackson complained of a medical condition, and based on what officers observed, Jackson was immediately provided emergency medical treatment by EMS,” who transported him to a local hospital.

The Eau Claire Police Department’s mobile video system recorded the department’s involvement in the incident.

“The recordings are being made available to the public at this time considerate of sensitivity to Mr. Jackson’s family and the community we serve,” the release says.

The video and audio footage can be viewed on YouTube.
At the Altoona Police Department’s request, the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation is leading the probe of the incident.

The Wisconsin DOJ reports that “provisional autopsy results show the cause of death does not appear to be from traumatic injuries and is pending laboratory analysis at this time,” the news release says.

“The Eau Claire Police Department is conducting an internal administrative review of our involvement in this incident,” according to Rokus’s release.

After the investigation is completed, “it will be evaluated and made available for community review,” the release says.

Eau Claire police officers “respect the value and sanctity of every human life,” the release says. “At risk of life and livelihood, our officers accept the responsibility to protect others.

“We take these obligations seriously and understand the important responsibility we have to earn the trust of the community by addressing difficult situations with professionalism, compassion, transparency and integrity,” it says.

“We offer our condolences to the friends and family of Demetrio Jackson,” the release says.

Editor’s note: News 8 Now is publishing the YouTube link because of the police department’s quest for transparency. However, we aren’t posting the actual video out of sensitivity to Jackson’s family.

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