A man who allegedly vandalized a Kingsport home on Monday and fought with responding officers was suspected of being on bath salts, according to an incident report, and had to be secured in a restraint chair at the city jail prior to his death in the facility.
Kingsport Police Department Public Information Officer Tom Patton has confirmed the man's identity as Michael R. Baker, 39, of Church Hill. KPD Chief David Quillin says the death is believed to be the result of an unknown medical condition.
A police report on Baker's arrest says he was charged Monday with public intoxication, vandalism, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. At approximately 7 a.m., police were called to a "disturbance" at a residence on Allen Drive, with an allegedly combative Baker having to be carried to a patrol car as he kicked officers.
The report says Baker was suspected of being under the influence of bath salts. He was reportedly screaming and yelling statements that didn't make sense, including, "I did not kill her."
Police say they spoke with the resident and multiple witnesses to the incident, with them saying they didn't know Baker. His outburst at the home included breaking items on the patio, tearing screens off windows, and beating on the door while screaming.
To prevent Baker from kicking in the back seat of the patrol car, possibly incurring injury to officers or himself, a hobble device was used to restrain his feet. An incident report says he continued to be "violent" with police once brought into the city jail.
The report says that after a "lengthy struggle" with Baker, a supervisor approved that he be placed in a restraint chair within the jail.
"He was temporarily placed in a protective restraint chair designed to limit his mobility for his own safety," says Patton. "He was removed from the restraint chair approximately four hours later when he became less combative; however, his irrational conduct continued."
At approximately 5 a.m. Tuesday, jail personnel observed Baker, who police said was by himself, to be unresponsive. Medical help was immediately summoned, but upon arrival of the Kingsport Fire Department Baker was determined to be deceased.
“There is absolutely no indication at this time that the individual’s death was anything except the result of an unknown medical condition," reads a statement issued by Chief Quillin. "There is absolutely no indication of foul play, as the prisoner was by himself."
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will conduct an investigation into the incident, turning over their findings to Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus. Kingsport police say an autopsy has been ordered.