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Man accused in rape dies during arrest

4-21-15 Tennessee:

COLUMBIA, TN (WSMV) - Police in Columbia have launched an investigation after a man died in police custody.

Brian Acton, 40, was a convicted sex offender in Utica, KY, and was on the sex offender registry. In 2013, he was charged with raping a woman at a motel in Columbia.

Police said Acton attacked another woman on Saturday night and died after police put him in handcuffs.

Beckett Street in Columbia is usually quiet, but it was shaken after police said a woman was raped inside her home by a man she barely knew.

"You just don't expect that to happen right up the street from the house," said Marshall Brooks, a neighbor.

The woman told police Acton was only an acquaintance from church who showed up unannounced just before 3 a.m. Saturday.

"He was in the living room asking for a glass of water," said Lt. Joey Gideon with Columbia police. "When she went to retrieve the glass of water, he was no longer in the living room. She found him unclothed in her bedroom."

The 30-year-old woman said she then told Acton to leave, but he refused. She said he began mumbling incoherently and then sexually assaulted her.

The woman's 10-year-old daughter was in the other room at the time.

"She heard the struggle," Gideon said. "She heard her mother crying for help. I think she cried out to her mother and her mother told her, 'Go get help.'"

The girl ran to a neighbor who called police.

Police said when EMS crews pulled up to the house, Acton stopped breathing. He was pronounced dead at Maury Regional Hospital.

"When he was taken into custody, they only used their hands for control techniques to take him into custody," Gideon said. "They physically put him into handcuffs, then they were waiting on EMS. His heavy breathing was attributed to the struggle either with the victim or struggling against the handcuffs at first."

Responding officers said Acton appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Columbia police said so far, they don't believe their officers did anything wrong.

"We are going to continue to investigate this fully," Gideon said. "Not only to what Mr. Acton did, but the officers' actions. As of right now, there is no indication that the officers took any type of action that would have caused any type of death."

The officers involved were not placed on leave.

The district attorney is investigating the rape and death case. Police said if the district attorney's office believes there needs to be further investigation, they will turn the case over to the TBI.

Preliminary autopsy reports show there was no trauma, but the cause of death has not been determined. Toxicology reports won't be back for weeks. ..Source.. by Hayley Mason

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