Man dies after ingesting unknown substance during arrest in Waukegan, police say

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (WLS) -- A man died after he ate an unknown white substance while running from police in north suburban Waukegan Thursday, police said.

Detectives from Waukegan's Criminal Investigations Division went to serve a search warrant for drugs at a home in the 600-block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue at about 3 p.m. Police said they saw 31-year-old Avion Cotton with an active arrest warrant drive to the residence.

When the Cotton got out of his car and began approaching the house, detectives walked up to him. Cotton ran away and as he was running, police said he began to eat an unknown white substance.

Cotton fell and was placed into custody, police said. He continued to chew the substance, refused commands to spit it out, then became physically distressed, police said.

Cotton was rushed to an area hospital where he died.

"Officers were telling him, 'Don't resist.' He didn't resist and they pulled him down. He wasn't moving, so I didn't know if he was alive or if he was just laying there and they were choking him, tasing him and he didn't resist and I figured he was dead," said witness Nicki Flowers.

The Lake County Coroner's Office performed an autopsy on Friday, which revealed "multiple bags containing a white rocklike substance were found in his stomach and esophagus." The preliminary autopsy and toxicology reports are pending.

"We have been in close contact with Mr. Cotton's family and our deepest condolences go out to them during this difficult time," said Lake County Coroner Howard Cooper.

The incident is being classified as an in-custody death and at the request of the Waukegan Police Department, it's being investigated by the Illinois State Police.
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