Death during arrest puzzles man's mom, law officials
By MEGAN SCOTT
CLEARWATER -- Barbara Nadir says her son was a "gentle giant."
During the day, he would walk the streets with a plastic baggy, picking up trash. At night, he would play with his pet ferrets, Cookie and Angel.
But something set Peter Nadir off Saturday morning.
Police were called to the Nadirs' neighborhood at 7:32 a.m. after a neighbor reported that Peter Nadir, 31, was chasing his mother -- who uses a wheelchair -- down the street.
When police arrived, things went terribly wrong, his mother said.
Nadir said she wanted her son, who is manic-depressive, taken to a mental hospital. But according to police, he fought with officers, and they arrested him. He collapsed on the street in handcuffs and was pronounced dead minutes later at Mease Countryside Hospital.
"I didn't want him to be jailed," said Nadir, 65, who moved to Florida 11 years ago from Long Island, N.Y. "He wasn't a criminal. I could see he was getting out of control. He was taking his medication. I thought he should go to the hospital."
Clearwater police spokesman Wayne Shelor said that when officers tried to make an arrest, Peter Nadir, who weighed more than 350 pounds, "became immediately combative."
More officers arrived, and Peter Nadir was handcuffed in front of his body because of his size. That apparently is when he went limp, Shelor said.
Two officers had to be treated for minor injuries from the scuffle, he said.
Nadir said her son wasn't violent. On Friday, she said, they had a pleasant day. They went shopping at Kmart and watched television. That night, though, he had trouble sleeping.
And early Saturday morning, he began yelling. His mother had never seen an episode that severe. She went into her bedroom to call the police, but her son broke the door down before she could dial.
She wheeled outside and asked a neighbor walking the dog to call 911.
When the police arrived, they told her to wait inside the house. She's not sure what happened next, except that detectives said her son had died.
"They told me he became combative," she said. "I think it's probably right. Two guys came in the house -- a victim's advocate and a lieutenant. The lieutenant said, "He died just like that."'
The cause of death is unknown. Police are investigating, and the department's Office of Professional Standards will review the incident to make sure the proper procedures were followed, Shelor said.
Nadir said her son took medication for high cholesterol and blood pressure. He took three psychotropic drugs for his mental illness that she gave to him every night. She said she gave him the drugs Friday night.
She said she her son graduated from high school in special education, and she had recently registered him at Pinellas Technical Education Center. He drove a Honda CR-V, and in 12 years of driving, had never gotten a speeding ticket, she said.
He was her primary caregiver, she said.
Nadir said she did not blame police for his death.
"I don't know what the cause of his death was," Nadir said. "What happened yesterday (Saturday) was the result of a manic-depressive episode. When someone is manic, they have to be subdued."
Nadir said she had already looked into an assisted living facility. She's also trying to find a new home for Cookie and Angel. Most of all, though, she wants an answer.
"I'm not looking for revenge," Nadir said. "What I'm looking for is an answer. A person who wasn't bad, wasn't evil, who was very lonely is no longer here. You know what my question is? Why is he dead? Good question. Why?"
-- Megan Scott can be reached at 445-4183 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
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