KDPS obtains search warrants for in-custody death investigation

A 2008 mug shot of James Ronald Dunigan from the Michigan Department of Corrections.


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety officials say they’re conducting an “internal review” surrounding the death of a man who was forced away from a Kalamazoo Hospital in handcuffs before he died in police custody.

“I want to be accurate in any statements I would make,” KDPS Chief Jeff Hadley said in an email to 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday morning.

James Ronald Dunigan died Friday morning after police say he suffered some kind of a medical episode. He was treated and released from Bronson Methodist Hospital but refused to leave so hospital staff called police, according to KDPS. After continued refusal, he was arrested on an outstanding warrant.

Officers who were taking him to jail noticed Dunigan having a problem, Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Pali Matyas said, but did not seek immediate medical help because they thought he was faking.

Hadley withheld responses to specific questions about his officers’ actions.

“I don’t have some of the answers to your questions at this moment,” Hadley wrote in his statement. “We are conducting an internal review of this incident and will provide the information once we have an opportunity to interview all witnesses officers, review video…”

KDPS had to wait for a judge’s order to get video that shows what happened inside Bronson Methodist Hospital in downtown Kalamazoo.

“We had to get a search warrant for the video from Bronson and just received those,” Hadley said. “We won’t make any statements until we complete the investigation.”

In an interview with 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday, Dunigan’s brother said the family had received little information about what happened to him, why he wanted to stay at the hospital, or why staff was insistent he leave.

Hospital officials would not respond to specific questions about the incident citing patient privacy.

KDPS initially called his death “suspicious” on Friday, but backed off that statement Monday saying the death was believed to be from natural causes.

The chief says officers involved with Dunigan’s arrest remain on the job.

24 Hour News 8 will follow the investigation as it unfolds.

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