PEORIA, Ill. — The loss of a father, a brother and a son left a family heartbroken and looking for answers.
33-year-old David Smith was apprehended by the Peoria Police Department Monday after he allegedly attempted to rob the Johnson Minimart.
Shortly after, officers found him unresponsive in a yard in the 300 block of South Saratoga, which was two blocks away from the store.
Advanced Medical Transport arrived and evaluated Smith, then released him to the police for an interview.
A video posted on Facebook by Smith’s sister Keondra Fluker, shows Smith being dragged on the ground by police officers.
Keondra said that Smith was never responsive.
“They never spoke to a conscious man from the time they cuffed my brother to the time he appeared at the hospital he was never conscious,” she said.
When officers got to the police station they said Smith was unconscious and that he was taken to the hospital then pronounced dead on Tuesday.
However, Smith’s family thinks otherwise. They said they believe he died in police custody on Monday.
The Peoria County coroner, Jamie Harwood, said preliminary findings demonstrate that Smith likely had a heart arrhythmia, related to a pre-existing heart condition.
Also, the findings showed that he suffered no contributing blunt force injuries or trauma.
Smith’s brother, Kenny Fluker blames the police for his death adding that he did not get the medical attention he needed.
“Who wants to admit that a person died in their possesion? Then you dropped the body off at the hospital, try to leave it up to my mom to make the decision when they already made the decision when they didn’t get him no medical help,” Kenny said.
Wednesday morning, friends and family rallied outside the police station demanding justice.
Patrice Foster, a friend of Smith, said she doesn’t understand how he was read his Miranda rights while he was unconscious. She said the police and medical professionals were negligent and did not provide the proper care.
“He was family man, he was someone’s brother, he was someone’s father, he was my best friend and I just I’m not okay with it, I’m never going to be okay with it,” Foster said.
The family is grieving, especially for the daughter of David Smith, who had a birthday following his death.
They mentioned plans to involve a lawyer.
We reached out to the Peoria police and AMT and they say they have nothing further to say at this time.
The Illinois State Police are currently conducting an investigation.