LEE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The family of an Allegan County man who died in police custody is speaking out.
Jay Strample, father of 40-year-old Nathan Strample, says his son is dead as a result of excessive force.
Police say they were dispatched to a home on North Avenue in Pullman around 7:10 Wednesday morning. The responding officers included a sheriff’s deputy from Allegan County and a Michigan State Police trooper from the Fifth District.
Strample said he and his wife called police because his son, who had schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, was having a mental health episode.
“He was in the house. I told my wife, ‘I can’t control him, call the police,’” Strample said as he began describing the incident.
Strample says when police got there, they spoke with Nathan inside the home and then things took a turn, spilling out into the front yard.
“One of the officers punched him in the belly. They tussled to the ground, wrestled to the ground. The state police sat on his neck while they were trying to get a handcuff on him,” Strample said.
Strample also says police used a taser. He said throughout the altercation, Nathan kept calling for help until he eventually turned gray. The 40-year-old never stood back up. Police say he died at the scene.
“I’ve lost my son, I’ve lost our baby. He was the youngest. He has an older sister and an older brother, and the hardest thing was telling his brother,” Strample said.
Michigan State Police’s Sixth Division is investigating the incident. They say an autopsy shows Strample didn’t have any broken bones or blunt force trauma. Strample’s family says he did however have bruising on his face. Investigators say they did attempt life-saving measures at the scene.
The Strample family says as the image of their son lying lifeless in their yard plays on repeat, they want people to know that he mattered.
“People in the United States need to realize there’s too much of this going on these days. I don’t care if you’re Black, white, red or yellow. It doesn’t matter, you are a person,” Strample said.
At the scene, the Strample family says police did administer Narcan, which is a treatment used for people who may be experiencing an overdose. There has been no confirmation that drugs were in Strample’s system that morning.
Police are still awaiting results from a toxicology report. Once they receive those results, they say they’ll be able to comment on allegations of excessive force.