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Family of Steven Barrier files lawsuit claiming excessive use of force resulting in his 2019 death in police custody

The lawsuit seeks damages and the establishment of a community mental health crisis team.

STAMFORD, Conn. — A wrongful death lawsuit accuses Stamford, Connecticut, police of using excessive force on a mentally ill man and failing to immediately get him emergency medical care after he was taken into custody in October 2019. Steven Barrier died on his 23rd birthday after becoming unresponsive in a police cruiser. 

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday by Barrier's mother and the Connecticut Legal Rights Project. Body camera video shows officers making jokes as Barrier lay unconscious in a holding room. 

He was later pronounced dead at a hospital. The medical examiner says Barrier died of a heart attack. Stamford officials say they do not comment on pending litigation.

State's Attorney Richard Colangelo Jr. ruled that Barrier from natural causes. 

RELATED: State's Attorney: Stamford man died of "natural causes" in police custody

According to the medical examiner, an autopsy found no evidence of any inflicted injuries.

The Connecticut Legal Rights Project says damages for wrongful death, and funding for the establishment of a 24/7 non-police mental health community response team to respond to psychiatric emergencies.

Speakers will discuss the suit and the urgent need for reforms.

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