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CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — The 30-year-old Cleveland Heights police officer who collapsed while chasing a suspect Saturday died of a coronary problem.

Chief Martin Lentz said the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office notified him today of the preliminary findings.

Lentz detailed the events that led up to patrolman Thomas Patton’s death:

Police were called at 8:15 p.m. to the Marc’s store on Coventry Road.

Malcolm Bryant, 21, was in the store harassing two women employees. He offered the women, 17 and 20, to take them to a party where there would be drugs.

An off-duty police officer guarding the store told Bryant to leave the women alone. He spit in the officer’s face and ran.

The officer called for assistance. Patton and two other patrol officers joined the long chase through woods and back yards.

At Glenmont and Mayfield roads, Patton bent over, resting his hands on his knees. He rested just a moment, then continued running. He didn’t get far and collapsed.

He was pronounced dead at Huron Hospital in East Cleveland.

The other officers caught Bryant. He will be charged Monday with assault on a police officer, for spitting on the officer, and obstructing justice, for running, and prosecutors will decide whether to charge him with the officer’s death, Lentz said.

Dozens of officers from departments across the region gathered at the hospital Saturday night in a show of support.

Patton was the son of State Sen. Thomas Patton of Strongsville.

The last Cleveland Heights officer to die in the line of duty was Jason West, 31, who was shot May 25, 2007. Shooter Timothy Halton Jr. is serving life in prison.   Story from the Plain Dealer.

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