A Rochester man’s death in police custody was a result of medical conditions and the stress of the incident, according the Winona County Attorney’s office.
Albert Thomas Dashow, 39, died during a struggle with police March 27. A determination has been made not to bring charges against the officers involved.
According to the Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s office autopsy report, Dashow died of cardiac hypertrophy and physical stress associated with his restraint by law enforcement officials.
Cardiac hypertrophy is an enlargement or thickening of the heart muscle. It can be caused by multiple conditions that make the heart work harder than normal, such as high blood pressure or obesity.
The autopsy report lists obesity as a significant condition contributing to death, but lists restraint by law enforcement as the main cause of injury.
The autopsy report was a part of the investigation conducted by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension into Dashow’s death. The BCA’s completed report was forwarded to the Winona County Attorney’s office, where staff reviewed it to determine whether charges should be brought against the arresting officers.
In a letter to Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem, Winona County Attorney Karin Sonneman wrote that police response in the incident was “necessary and appropriate.”
The letter does not specify Dashow’s cause of death in the investigation but does allude to health conditions.
“The autopsy finding as to the manner of death does not imply fault,” Sonneman wrote. “The evidence indicates that Mr. Dashow’s tragic death appears to have resulted from Mr. Dashow’s medical conditions in combination with the stress of the incident.”
The office’s conclusion was based on Rochester police reports — including squad videos, body cameras, photos and audio recordings — the BCA report, autopsy findings and an interview with Reade Quinton of the Medical Examiner’s office.
Rochester Police Chief Jim Franklin called Dashow’s death “tragic” but added the investigation showed officers acted appropriately. He called the BCA’s investigation “thorough” and supported the Winona County Attorney’s office conclusions.
“The officers acted upon what was in front of them and acted appropriately,” Franklin said.
“I think this case highlights the complexity of law enforcement,” Franklin added. “When you’re dealing with people in a state of distress and officers’ safety, there’s a lot to take into account.”
Franklin told the Police Policy Oversight Commission Monday evening that he is still getting information from the investigation and has not yet seen the medical examiner’s report.
He said when the information is gathered, the department will study whether any policy concerns need to be addressed.
“We are going to conduct our own internal review process,” he said.
Dashow died following a physical struggle with police after police attempted to pull him over. An officer on patrol attempted to stop Dashow in the parking lot of Cub Foods, 1021 15th Ave. SE. Dashow allegedly drove away before completion of the traffic stop, but was stopped again by police a short distance later, according to police.
As the officer attempted to arrest the driver, a physical struggle ensued and Dashow became unresponsive. Life-saving efforts were unsuccessful.
Franklin said shortly after the incident that no weapons were used by police in the incident.