Riley County, Kan. (KAKE) - A Manhattan man died after being arrested earlier that morning for cocaine possession amongst other charges.

Police say 25-year-old Joseph Varvel was arrested on April 28, 2023, around 1:45 a.m. in the 300 block of N. 14th Street in Manhattan for "suspicious activity."

While speaking with officers, he ran and was later found in possession of cocaine.

Officers on the scene called for assistance at 1:50 a.m. after Varvel was struggling to breathe while in custody. Emergency crews arrived on the scene at 1:56 a.m. and cleared Varvel at 2:05 a.m.

Police then took Varel to Riley County Jail after arresting him on charges of:

  • Possession of cocaine.
  • Possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia.
  • Interference with LEO.

Emergency crews were again called at 3:32 a.m. when Varvel became physically ill. His condition quickly deteriorated and Corrections officers began lifesaving measures. The crews arrived at 3:41 a.m. and continued lifesaving measures. Varvel was then taken to Via Christi in Manhattan at 4:03 a.m. where he arrived at 4:12 a.m. and was pronounced dead at 4:47 a.m.

“Our hearts go out to Mr. Varvel’s family and friends,” said KBI Director Brian Peete. “This agency holds itself to the highest levels of integrity and accountability and will continue to be transparent and work with the KBI through their analysis of this case. I commend our Corrections staff and EMS who did everything in their power to help Mr. Varvel during this tragic situation.”

An investigation is ongoing.