A former Gallaudet University student was briefly restrained physically by at least five campus security officers Friday, just before he suffered an apparent heart attack, a university spokeswoman said yesterday.
The death of Carl Dupree, 41, who collapsed about 4 p.m. Friday and later died, has sparked two inquiries, one by D.C. homicide investigators and another by university officials.
The incident began Friday afternoon when Dupree and a former teacher got into an argument. The teacher summoned campus security and asked that Dupree be removed, said Muriel Strassler, director of public relations for Gallaudet.
"My understanding is that one officer responded and attempted to encourage Mr. Dupree to leave campus, and when he was not able to succeed, they called for reinforcements," Strassler said.
Strassler said about four officers responded and tried to encourage Dupree to leave Hall Memorial Building, where the confrontation took place. She said Dupree again refused.
"Mr. Dupree became agitated. It was necessary to briefly restrain him . . . . He calmed down briefly and then went into cardiac arrest," Strassler said.
The officers who had restrained him immediately administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation, she said. He was taken by ambulance to Capitol Hill Hospital, where he died.
Strassler spoke through an interpreter of sign language. The university's students, and many of its teachers and administrators, are deaf.
Several students interviewed on television said Dupree, who was deaf, could not communicate with campus security because he was handcuffed. They said campus police appeared to use excessive force. It is unclear how the officers restrained Dupree, and in what way he may have resisted.
Strassler referred questions on the investigation to D.C. police. Police officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.
All Gallaudet security officers are required to learn sign language, and Strassler said competency ranges from "somewhere between not very good to very fluent," depending on how long an officer has been employed. She said she did not know the sign language skills of the officers involved.
Dupree was a student at Gallaudet years ago, and enrolled again this year, but withdrew about three or four weeks ago. He was married, had several children and lived in Springfield. Attempts to reach his family yesterday were unsuccessful.
Dupree had been trying to get the university to drop an English proficiency requirement, but it is unclear whether this is what led to the dispute. Strassler said the requirement applies to all students, who are given four semesters to pass the course.