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Walter Perez's death probed after Inwood man's struggle with cops

Scenes from a homicide investigation in Inwood on Saturday morning, Sept. 23, 2017. (Credit: Newsday / John Asbury)

An autopsy was completed by the New York medical examiner’s office on an Inwood man who died after a struggle with Nassau police officers but more tests are needed to determine a cause of death, an official said Sunday.

Walter Perez, 36, of Doughty Boulevard, was pronounced dead at 3:25 a.m. Saturday — about an hour after Nassau police responded to his home following a 911 call about an intoxicated man “banging, kicking and screaming,” police said.

Two Taser shots from the first officers to encounter Perez failed to subdue him as he made threats — verbally and with a “dangerous instrument,” Nassau police Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun said Saturday.

Other officers arrived and after a struggle, handcuffed Perez, who sometime later stopped breathing, LeBrun said.

He died at a hospital in Queens, officials said. LeBrun declined to specify the instrument Perez used to threaten officers.

Dr. Barbara Sampson, the city’s chief medical examiner, said Sunday that Perez’s autopsy was performed Saturday, but findings on what caused his death could take weeks.

“The cause and manner of death are pending further studies,” she said.

The office does not release preliminary findings, Sampson said, and she declined to specify the testing Perez’s body will undergo, but said it could include toxicology and tissue evaluation.

Police on Saturday said two officers who were first to arrive at the home were told by someone there that the man was naked, covered in blood and destroying articles in the basement.

Perez was found in his rental unit, one of four located in the home’s basement.

State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has opened an investigation into Perez’ death because it happened during a confrontation with police officers.

A spokeswoman for Schneiderman’s office, Amy Spitalnick, said Sunday that she could not comment on any developments in the probe.

LeBrun said in an email Sunday that the investigation was “ongoing.” He added that the medical examiner would not be able to determine the exact cause of Perez’s death “until the toxicology comes back, which will take time.”

Five officers were treated at a hospital for exposure to blood, saliva and feces, LeBrun said Saturday.

On Sunday, people in Perez’s neighborhood expressed disbelief about his death and described the area as a quiet, close-knit neighborhood.

With Deon J. Hampton

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