A Salt Lake City man died less than an hour after police restrained him. Officers won’t face charges in his death.

Nykon Brandon’s cause of death was the result of the “struggle and restraint by other individuals,” combined with his obesity and methamphetamine toxicity, an autopsy concluded.

(Screenshot via body camera footage from Salt lake City Police) An SLCPD police officer attempts to stop Nykon Brandon, 35, on Aug. 14. A 911 call reported Brandon had attempted to run into a Salt Lake City brewery and steal beer. Less than an hour after his arrest, SLCPD was notified Brandon had died. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced Friday that he won't charge the officers who restrained Brandon.

Salt Lake City police officers will not face charges after a man died less than an hour after they restrained him, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced in a Friday letter outlining his office’s investigation into the use of force.

On Aug. 14, 2022, officers responded to a report of a man in his underwear who had attempted to steal beer from a nearby brewery, according to the letter. The caller told dispatchers the man seemed to be having a mental health crisis and requested mental health resources be sent to the scene, according to audio released of the call.

The man, later identified as 35-year-old Nykon Brandon, had fought off customers who tried to stop him, the caller reported, then began running in and out of traffic in the Granary District near 365 W. 700 South. Police body camera footage showed an officer pulling up to the area at about 3:22 p.m., then chasing the man to a sidewalk while yelling for him to stop.

After a struggle, authorities restrained him for about five minutes before he became unresponsive to the officers. He was taken to the hospital at about 3:39 p.m., and less than an hour later, Salt Lake City police were notified Brandon had died.

“The struggle and restraint by other individuals, combined with his obesity and methamphetamine toxicity, resulted in cardiopulmonary arrest,” Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Lily Marsden determined after an autopsy, according to the D.A.’s Office.

In explaining why he wasn’t filing charges, Gill said in the letter that the cardiac arrest developed “in the context” of Brandon’s obesity, methamphetamine toxicity and his “dilated heart chambers” and “fatty liver,” which were all “independent of any officer involvement.”

“While Mr. Brandon’s death occurred after he was handcuffed, the primary causes of his death were his poor health, his meth toxicity, and his physical exertion from running and then wrestling with police officers,” Gill wrote. “We do not believe it likely that his death resulted from officers’ attempt to gain physical control of him.”

Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown released a statement addressing two decisions involving his department that Gill announced Friday — in both, the D.A. determined he would not file charges.

“No matter the circumstance nor danger we face, we take an oath to uphold the law and to serve and protect our communities,” Brown said in a statement. “I am proud these separate investigations proved that is exactly what happened in both instances.”

Gill released three decisions on Friday, including another case where he determined that federal and local officers wouldn’t face charges for shooting a man as he pulled out a gun and shot himself.

‘Is he alive?’

Brandon interacted with police twice that day before his death. According to the letter, South Salt Lake police took him at about 2 p.m. to a nearby Volunteers of America detox center, located at 252 Brooklyn Avenue, after they had received a report that Brandon was acting “confused and scared” at a local park. Although authorities smelled alcohol on his breath, paramedics determined he did not need to be hospitalized — so he was taken to the detox center, the D.A. release states.

Gill’s letter did not specify what Brandon did after he was checked in at the detox center, but by 3:13 p.m., he was two blocks away at the brewery in only his underwear and socks.

Staff at the detox center told D.A. investigators that Brandon had left property there, according to the letter, but only gave investigators Brandon’s cell phone — saying they couldn’t release the rest of what the man had left because it had been “stolen.”

Staff at the center also refused to comply with a search warrant for Brandon’s medical records or video surveillance, citing a confidentiality clause in the code of federal regulations, according to the D.A. letter.

“It is unclear why VOA concluded that disclosing Mr. Brandon’s presence and property at the facility was unprotected information but that video surveillance at the facility was a treatment record,” the letter states. “Nevertheless, VOA did not retain all of Mr. Brandon’s property or fully comply with the search warrant in this case.”

The facility’s program director did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

When authorities responded to the Granary District just after 3 p.m. — Brandon’s second encounter with police — Brandon tried to fight off the officer who was chasing him. Body camera footage shows he attempts to grab the officer’s weapon as another officer tackles Brandon to the ground near a curb. The two officers then attempt to restrain the man in a gravel area alongside the curb near the sidewalk.

Body camera footage shows an officer threaten to use his stun gun on Brandon, who groans and pants as the officers attempt to handcuff on him. Brandon then tries to grab an officer’s gun a second time, according to the footage.

Brandon continues to thrash while being pinned on his side against the gravel, the footage shows, and an officer repeatedly tells him to stop. As another officer arrives, they again attempt to handcuff Brandon, and they order him to put his hands behind his back, the footage shows. Brandon groans incoherently in response.

At 3:24 p.m., another officer arrives. At this point, four officers are holding the man down, the footage shows — one near his head and neck, one pinning his back to the ground, and two at his legs.

The officers then move their hands to Brandon’s back and the side of his head, according to body camera footage, attempting to restrain his hands behind his back. He continues to try to get up; an officer holds the back of Brandon’s neck down in the gravel with both hands for about 10 seconds until another officer handcuffs him, the footage shows.

With the handcuffs secured, three officers continue to pin Brandon to the ground, keeping his face pressed into the gravel as he groans periodically, the body camera footage shows. Brandon tries to move out of their grip, the footage shows, and officers tell him to stop and relax.

Officers tell him that he can sit up if he stops fighting them, the body camera footage shows, and Brandon continues to pant heavier. One officer then tells him to relax and take some breaths and asks him, “You gonna be cool?”

Body camera video shows Brandon groan at about 3:27 p.m., and another officer pats him on the shoulder, asking if Brandon can hear him. The officer repeats himself twice while tapping Brandon’s shoulder to no response, so officers roll him on his back.

Footage shows scratches down one of Brandon’s arms as officers turn him over, and he appears unconscious.

“Is he alive?” someone asks. The footage ends as police officials say officers began to administer medical aid.

Cause of death

Less than a minute later, police administered the “first of multiple doses” of Narcan, a medication used to reverse opioid overdoses, according to a news release from the department. Police could not find a pulse, so they then moved Brandon from the gravel to the sidewalk and began CPR, according to a letter from the Salt Lake County district attorney’s office.

Authorities called an ambulance and administered three more doses of Narcan while they continued CPR, the D.A. letter states. Paramedics arrived at about 3:31 p.m., and attempted to resuscitate Brandon before they took him to a nearby hospital at 3:39 p.m., where he was later pronounced dead.

An autopsy performed by the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner concluded that Brandon died from “sudden cardiopulmonary arrest during physical struggle with prone restraint in the setting of obesity and methamphetamine toxicity.”

The department said it was later notified that Brandon died less than an hour after the confrontation, but his exact time of death was unknown.

Gill said in his letter that Brandon’s death fell outside of the scope of the definition of an “officer-involved critical incident” — which his office is legally required to review — since Brandon’s death did not occur from the officers’ “attempt to gain physical control” of him. D.A. officials concluded they would not file charges against any of the police officers involved, the letter states.

“There is nothing remarkable from the video footage to even infer that the actions of police officers were anything other than a reasonable and proportionate response to maintain the physical safety of Mr. Brandon, officers, and the rest of the community,” Gill said.

Brandon was the second person who died in 2022 after Salt Lake City officers held them in a restraint. Nearly seven months before his death, a 40-year-old woman died after SLCPD officers used similar restraints while arresting her. Her death was ruled a homicide, and Gill’s office has not yet made a determination whether the force that officers used in that case was justified, a spokesperson said Friday.

Update, Mar. 30, 11:30 a.m. • This story has been updated to include a statement from Salt Lake City Police Department and clarify that Nykon Brandon interacted with two separate law enforcement agencies on the day of his death.