Family of Gary Strobridge, man who died in police custody, suing Elmira Police

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – The family of Gary Strobridge, a 47-year-old Elmira man who died in police custody in August 2019, has filed a federal lawsuit that “alleges that numerous City of Elmira police officers used excessive force and were negligent in their handling of Gary Strobridge.”

Strobridge’s death is also being investigated by the New York Attorney General’s Office.

Elmira Police say that on Aug. 22, 2019, they were called to Strobridge’s home on Horner Street and found him on his roof. Strobridge came down from the roof “acting unusual” and began chasing a neighbor while shouting.

Officers attempted to take the Strobridge into custody under the Mental Hygiene Law, saying “he was clearly a danger to himself and/or others.”

According to police, Strobridge allegedly struck an officer in the face, leading to a struggle with law enforcement. An Elmira police officer used a Taser during the incident and Strobridge was taken into custody.

While receiving initial treatment at an unnamed hospital, police say the Strobridge was somewhat cooperative. At one point his “behavior suddenly changed and he physically attacked an Elmira police officer.”

During a second struggle with police, Strobridge suddenly became limp and unresponsive. He received medical treatment and was transported to Upstate Medical Center where he later died.

According to an attorney for Strobridge’s family, video of the incident shows that “the Officer began to punch (Strobridge), and four other Officers all then jumped in and began beating him.”

Additionally, the lawsuit claims that “Mr. Strobridge was again assaulted and had his head slammed to the ground, while handcuffed, numerous times.”

Elmira Deputy Police Chief Tony Alvernaz tells 18 News that the Elmira Police Department has cooperated fully with the New York State Attorney General’s Office, as required by law, and that the Attorney General’s Office has all of the material associated with this case. At last check, the New York State Attorney General’s Office said that the investigation was still ongoing.

Following the incident, Elmira Police told 18 News that there were no Elmira Police Officers on administrative leave as a result of any incident or investigation.

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