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Police Say They Were Defending Officer From Suspect Who Died In Custody

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - Two Sacramento police officers are on routine paid leave after cell phone video surfaced showing an officer striking a suspect with a baton moments before the suspect died.

Police say they were defending another officer who was overpowered by the suspect.

It all began at the Metro PCS store in the 8300 block of Folsom Boulevard as a suspicious person call that quickly escalated into a full-fledged fight between officers and the suspect.

An eyewitness, who wished to remain anonymous, captured video on her cell phone of the struggle between officers and the man.

"What I saw when I walked up there was the police on top of this man," the witness said.

In the video, police continue to tell the man to let go, yet the commands go ignored.

"He is obviously not in handcuffs and he is not complying," said Sacramento police Officer Doug Morse.

Minutes before the video was shot, police say the same man entered into the cell phone store, where an employee -- fearful for her life -- called 911.

"She actually left the phone off the hook, and you could hear what was going on in the store," said Morse. "It was obvious she was in fear of this individual."

When officers arrived, police say the man tried to barricade himself inside and within moments a fight broke out.

"Just prior to that video, the suspect was actually on top of the officer and assaulting him -- pinning him down to the ground. You can imagine how dangerous that is for an officer with all of his weapons systems," Morse said.

The fight became so alarming that not only did other officers jump in to help but two nearby shoppers tried to pull the suspect off the officer.

"Somebody was saying an officer got bit. I seen blood on him, but I saw blood was coming out the man's head," the witness said.

It is not clear how the suspect was killed. Once in custody, the man was found unresponsive and was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

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