Death in squad car ruled accidental, BCA says

MARSHALL – An investigation surrounding the death of a man inside a parked Lyon County Sheriff’s Department squad car in August is still ongoing, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said Friday. However, the death of Raul Bautista-Avalos, 52, has been ruled an accident.

Bautista-Avalos was found dead in the front seat of a squad car parked outside the Lyon County Law Enforcement Center on Aug. 31. According to a preliminary investigation by the BCA, Bautista-Avalos had come to the Marshall Police Department around 2:30 a.m., appearing intoxicated and requesting a ride home. He was told to wait for an officer in the lobby area, the BCA said, but when the officer arrived a few minutes later, Bautista-Avalos was gone.

Bautista-Avalos was found in a squad car at the back of the LEC parking lot around 4:45 p.m., the BCA said. The investigation suggested Bautista-Avalos left the police department and entered the vehicle through an unlocked back door. When Bautista-Avalos was unable to reopen the back door, it is thought that he climbed through a 1-by-1 foot window in the Plexiglas barrier to the front seat where he was found.

Jill Oliveira, public information officer for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and the BCA, said Friday that the investigation of the incident is still open. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner has ruled Bautista-Avalos’ death as accidental, Oliveira said.

– Deb Gau