A 34-year-old man who died after a confrontation with detectives at Bulli on Thursday night was known to police, a spokesman said.
Southern Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Mick Fuller, said plain-clothes officers had been conducting an investigation around Gwyther Avenue, an area he said was ‘‘common for drug and property crime’’, when they stopped the Wollongong man.
‘‘Police were operating in the area targeting specifically drug and property crime. They were in there conducting covert activities and they had cause to stop the deceased,’’ he said.
‘‘Police moved in to have a discussion with the deceased. Following that there was an argument and an arrest followed after that.
‘‘A struggle has ensued and the deceased was handcuffed. He unfortunately stopped breathing a short time later.’’
Despite attempts by police and paramedics to resuscitate the man, he was pronounced dead on arrival at Wollongong Hospital.
Mr Fuller said it was too early to say whether drugs had been found at the scene or whether the 34-year-old was carrying a weapon.
He said police had not used Tasers or other weapons.
‘‘Other than handcuffs and physical touching, no other tactical options have been used in terms of evidence we’ve gathered at this stage.’’
He said the four police officers involved were extremely distressed by the man’s death.
‘‘There were two key officers involved in the arrest initially and they were supported by two other officers. They are providing statements and their welfare is a key concern,’’ Mr Fuller said.
‘‘These officers started a shift and were out patrolling and protecting the community and obviously when you start the shift you don’t think you will be involved in such a concerning incident.
‘‘They are experienced officers but being at a scene when someone dies is obviously a very stressful situation for anyone.’’
Mr Fuller said an internal investigation involving the State Crime Command had been established and would be overseen by the NSW Police Professional Standards Command.
‘‘It is important that all the information is provided to the coroner who will make an independent [assessment] in terms of the actions of police on the night,’’ Mr Fuller said.