TBI investigating arrest-related death in Cookeville

Posted By | June 30, 2017 1:45 pm

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Special Agents are currently investigating an arrest-related death that occurred in the early morning hours in Cookeville, Tennessee.

Bryant Dunaway, 13th District Attorney General, has requested TBI Special Agents to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a man while in the process of being arrested in the early morning hours by officers from the Cookeville Police Department.

Preliminary information that has been released indicates the incident occurred at approximately 12:30 Friday morning, when the Cookeville Police Department received a call alerting them to a man, identified as Richard Thomas Sparks, 37 years old, walking in the median of Interstate 40 near Mile Marker 288.

When an officer arrived and made contact with Sparks, he reportedly became combative. A second officer reportedly then arrived on the scene to assist, and the two were able to place Sparks on the ground in handcuffs. A short time after placing handcuffs on Sparks, he became unresponsive.

The two officers suspected an opioid overdose and administered a dose of naloxone, which was not successful in reviving Sparks. The officers then attempted to use a portable Automatic External Defibrillator (AED), which was also unsuccessful.

Medics with the Putnam County Emergency Medical Service transported Sparks to Cookeville Regional Medical Center, where doctors pronounced him deceased.

Agents with the TBI are currently gathering relevant information, conducting interviews, and collecting evidence at the scene in connection to this active and ongoing case.

After the TBI has gathered its investigative findings, they will then be submitted to the District Attorney General for his further review and consideration.

According to a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesperson, the TBI acts as ‘fact-finders’ in these cases. The decision as to whether the actions of the officers were justified rests solely with the District Attorney General.

Per TBI policy, the agency will not identify the officers involved in this incident and will instead refer questions of that nature to their department. The investigation is currently ongoing and further reports regarding this incident will be released at a later time.

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