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Mississippi authorities are facing criticism for an incident on Saturday in which Southaven Police Department officers reportedly hogtied Troy Goode after he acted erratically on the way home from a concert, with the 30-year-old Memphis man dying two hours after he was taken into custody.
Goode's wife Kelli was driving the pair home from a Widespread Panic show, which they had left early. It was shortly before 8 PM, and Goode was intoxicated. His behavior grew increasingly strange along the way, and at one point he suddenly exited the vehicle. The family's lawyer, Tim Edwards, told local newspaper the Clarion-Ledger that Goode was acting "erratically."
"All I could see was Mr. Goode moving about in the parking lot. She's out of the car on the cell phone," David McLaughlin, a lawyer who was eating dinner with his family nearby, told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "It appeared to me that he was maybe having some sort of fit. It looked like people were pleading, saying calm down. I was worried that he was going to run onto Goodman Road. He didn't appear to be hostile."
Police were called to the scene. Chief Tom Long of the Southaven Police Department later said that they were told that Goode was experiencing an "alleged LSD overdose." Authorities are still awaiting results of an autopsy and toxicology report.
Edwards said that Goode was not violent, but police forcibly subdued him.
"I saw Mr. Goode actually down on the ground being subdued by an officer who was sitting on his back," McLaughlin recalled. "I'm worried about him being on his back. I've been in lawsuits where people have died [from that]."
During his arrest, officers restrained his arms and legs by "hogtying" them behind his back and placed him on a stretcher on his stomach. "His legs were crossed, pulled back, by my vantage point, his hands were pulled back, and I think affixed to at least one of his legs," McLaughlin said.
"It's nothing that's illegal," Southaven Police Lt. Mark Little later said of hogtying, though the practice has led to various lawsuits. "It's called restraining. We're just basically keeping him from kicking and hurting someone."
McLaughlin's son shot video of Goode being loaded into an ambulance that was uploaded to YouTube.
"You can't see it on the video, but he was convulsing or fighting," McLaughlin noted. "I was concerned for him. We all were."
Goode had asthma, was positioned face down, and reportedly communicated to the officers that he was struggling to breathe. He was eventually transported to Baptist Memorial Hospital, where he died. The family has requested that the Mississippi Attorney General investigate Goode's death and the conduct of the officers involved.
Edwards emphasized that Goode did not threaten any bystanders or officers during the incident.
"I don't know the cause of death, and I'm not going to speculate on it nor am I going to point the finger at this point in time," Edwards said. "We don't know what happened in between the time the police took him off and the time the family was notified."
The Commercial Appeal revealed that a Memphis police report indicates that Goode had a run-in with authorities at a Widespread Panic show in 2008 for disorderly conduct, in which he struck a paramedic and resisted an officer after exhibiting strange behavior. The report says that Goode told police that he had taken LSD.