Athens man dies in police custody during breath test

A 60-year-old Athens man died in police custody Sunday after he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, authorities said.

Officers responded to the area of Kathwood Drive late Sunday morning on reports that a vehicle had run over a stop sign and left the scene, Athens-Clarke County police Maj. Mark Sizemore said in a news release.

“A citizen had witnessed the accident and followed the vehicle,” Sizemore said. “Athens-Clarke County police observed the reported violator’s vehicle as it drove to a residence where it came to a stop.”

After the vehicle stopped, police arrested John E. Marsden on suspicion of DUI, and he was taken to police headquarters to be given a breath test, according to Sizemore.

“While taking that test,” Sizemore said, “Mr. Marsden became unresponsive.”

Marsden was not breathing when paramedics arrived, and attempts were made to resuscitate him, but he was later pronounced dead at Athens Regional Medical Center.

There is no indication of any force involved in this incident, Sizemore said.

“The officer administering the test was equipped with a functional body camera,” he said, adding the officer who transported Marsden also had a vehicle equipped with video and the room in which the incident occurred had a video camera “that recorded the entire incident.”

Sizemore said the GBI has been asked to investigate the incident. Marsden’s body was taken to the GBI Crime Lab for an autopsy.

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