DCI: Man Who Stopped Breathing in Cedar Rapids Police Car Has Died

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By Aaron Hepker

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – The man who stopped breathing in the back of a Cedar Rapids police car last week last week has died.

Paul R. Saldivar Sr., 33, of Cedar Rapids, died early Friday morning after his family decided to remove life support earlier this week, authorities said. Bill Kietzman, special agent with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said an autopsy will be performed Saturday in Ankeny.

According to police, Saldivar ran from officers around 11 p.m. May 10 after being kicked out of Hazzard County Saloon, 315 Second Ave. SE. Caught and told he was being arrested for public intoxication, Saldivar reportedly became verbally agitated and hit his head against the door armrest as he was being handcuffed.

Police said Saldivar remained combative while he was in the back of the squad car, but became quiet shortly before arriving at the Linn County Jail. The officer parked at the jail and realized Saldivar was unconscious.

Sgt. Cristy Hamblin said CPR was performed and deputies from the jail came out to help. An ambulance took Saldivar to the hospital.

Saldivar’s cousin, Jamie Gifford, said Saldivar had seizures after the incident, but those had lessened since he was placed in a medically induced coma. She said tests done at the hospital did not reveal any brain injuries, and doctors were unsure how he became injured.

At a candlelight vigil Tuesday outside of Mercy Medical Center, family announced Saldivar was not expected to make medical improvement and would be taken off life support.

The Iowa DCI is continuing to investigate the incident. The officer who had been transporting Saldivar to the jail remains on a normal work schedule, police said.

Kietzman said Wednesday officers did not use a Taser or other less-than-lethal weapon while taking Saldivar into custody. He declined to release other information, including Salvidar’s blood alcohol content.

People transported in Cedar Rapids police cars are handcuffed but are usually not otherwise restrained. The squad car used to transport Saldivar was not equipped with in-car video cameras, as the department continues an upgrade.

Saldivar has a lengthy criminal history, including felony convictions for extortion, burglary and drug possession, according to online court records.
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