A man who died of an apparent heart attack outside The Meadows Racetrack & Casino after being subdued by police using a Taser has been identified as the former police chief of Rankin Borough.
Darryl L. Briston, 49, of 1309 Grandview Ave., North Braddock, was pronounced dead in the emergency room of Canonsburg General Hospital shortly before 11:30 Saturday night.
Briston was at the casino when he got into a confrontation with a man who was there with Briston’s estranged wife, police said. Briston reportedly punched the man, whom state police did not name, and then attempted to flee from security.
In a news release Sunday, Washington County Coroner Tim Warco said there were no indications that Briston had suffered any internal or external trauma. Warco said an autopsy had been performed but did rule on the manner or cause of Briston’s death pending the outcome of the police investigation. Police said their preliminary investigation indicates Briston died of natural causes.
In 2003, Briston was fired as Rankin’s police chief upon his conviction on theft and obstruction of justice charges. He was released from prison in 2007 but was back in the news two years later, charged with assaulting an ex-girlfriend. However, those charges were dropped when a district judge ruled there was not enough evidence to hold Briston for trial.
State police in Washington said Briston was inside the casino when he came upon his estranged wife and her male companion at 10:30 p.m. Police said Briston exchanged words with the other man and then punched him in the face.
The assault was witnessed by security staff at the casino, who requested assistance from the state police Gaming Enforcement Office inside the casino, as well as officers with the North Strabane Township Police Department.
According to state police in Washington, Briston ran from the casino but was pursued by security personnel for about a quarter-mile. As police attempted to take him into custody, Briston reportedly refused commands to put his hands behind him so he could be handcuffed and resisted being restrained.
He was warned that a Taser would be used if he failed to comply, and a trooper with the Gaming Enforcement Office applied a Taser to Briston’s upper right leg for two seconds, police said. Again Briston was ordered to place his hands behind his back or the Taser would be used a second time. Police said he complied and was handcuffed without incident.
Police escorted Briston to a waiting North Strabane Township patrol car. Briston complained that the handcuffs were too tight and, a short time later, said he was having difficulty breathing.
North Strabane police called Canonsburg Ambulance, whose staff responded and treated Briston. According to authorities, Briston apparently went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
State police said the time between when Briston was taken into custody and when he went into cardiac arrest was about 24 minutes.
The criminal unit of the state police has been called to investigate his death.