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Archive for Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Leawood native’s death investigated

Police cleared Wal-Mart employee who restrained the deceased

September 11, 2001

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— Police said Monday that two Wal-Mart employees did not use excessive force detaining a shoplifting suspect who died while being restrained before police arrived.

"They appeared to be making a lawful citizens arrest," Las Vegas police Lt. Wayne Petersen said of two assistant store managers. "According to witnesses and physical evidence, there does not appear to be any criminal action other than those of the decedent which led them to detain him."

Police identified the dead man as Jan M. Burstein, 29, of Leawood.

Clark County Coroner Ron Flud said Monday he was awaiting laboratory tests and investigative findings before releasing the results of an autopsy conducted Sunday.

Petersen said Burstein had a Kansas identification card and a Georgia vehicle registration.

Police said Burstein left the store about 10 p.m. Saturday with an unpaid-for digital video disc player ran away from the two store employees.

Scott Hardy, who lives nearby, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he saw the employees pin Burstein face-down in front of his home.

Hardy said Burstein's arms were behind his back and he was yelling as if in pain, but Hardy said he wasn't sure if the man was handcuffed. Hardy said the employees weren't yelling at or hitting Burstein.

Petersen said the store employees had Burstein face down and restrained when police arrived. He had stopped breathing.

Police in Las Vegas, like those in other cities, are trained to avoid restraining people face-down due to concerns about suffocation or so-called "positional asphyxia."

Flud said the coroner's report will examine positional asphyxia as a possible cause of death, along with any medical conditions that Burstein might have had.

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