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Coroner: Cincy Beating 'Homicide'

A struggle with police was the primary cause of a 350-pound black man's death, the coroner said Wednesday.

Hamilton County Coroner Carl Parrott said Nathaniel Jones, 41, suffered from an enlarged heart, obesity and had intoxicating levels of cocaine, PCP and methanol in his blood.

Parrott said the death will be ruled a homicide, but added that such a ruling "should not be interpreted as implying inappropriate behavior or the use of excessive force by police."

Jones died at a hospital shortly after being taken into custody Sunday outside a fast food restaurant. The 350-pound man was struck repeatedly with nightsticks in a confrontation captured by a video camera mounted on a police car.

Jones' body had bruising on the lower half, but did not show signs of blows to the head or organ damage, Parrott said.

The Citizen Complaint Authority, a watchdog panel born from the riots that followed the police shooting of an unarmed black man in 2001, is looking into the death.

The U.S. Justice Department also was studying the case. Justice Department spokesman Jorge Martinez said information was being gathered to determine if federal action was warranted.

Police on Tuesday released the security tapes from the White Castle restaurant where the incident took place.

Videotape from a police cruiser that was released earlier had shown cops' violent efforts to restrain the lunging suspect.

A new videotape released Tuesday shows what happened before the police arrived and immediately after they came to the scene.

All six officers who went to the scene — five whites and one black — were placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

The cause of Jones' death was under investigation. Preliminary autopsy results showed he had an enlarged heart, and his blood contained cocaine and PCP, or "angel dust," both of which can cause erratic behavior, Parrott said.

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