Investigation into would-be car thief's death

March 1, 2010 5:10:01 PM PST
A Queens man died after he was held down by his neighbor and arrested for attempting to steal his neighbor's car.Dillard Paris' mother told Eyewitness News, her son did what anyone else would do to defend their life.

His mother says her 28 year old son was digging his car out of the snow around 10 Saturday night.

She says he stepped inside their Saint Albans home and left the car idling on Mangin Avenue.

In those quick few minutes, a would-be thief tried to steal it.

Detectives say Paris caught the 50-year-old man in the act.

"The reports are that this individual who owned this car saw somebody steal his car. He did grab him about the head in headlock punched him about the head," said Ray Kelly, New York City Police Commissioner.

Commissioner Kelly says while police arrested the would-be thief, he lost consciousness and later died.

The Medical Examiner's office says he was strangled.

Police did not arrest Mr. Paris, who is a former Marine.

Neighbors said they believed the whole thing was an accident, and that Mr. Paris acted purely in self defense.

"Sometimes you do these things and you don't mean to do it. You're trying to defend yourself and these things happen," said Robert Moore, a neighbor.

"Let me put it this way. That's one less one we have to worry about," said Martin Julius, a neighbor.

In a strange twist, the would-be robber, Yaosse Agbokou, lived only two blocks away.

No one answered the door at his home.

His neighbors are also stunned.

"I know him. He seems to be a quiet person. It's hard to believe. Hard to believe that he was breaking into a car," said Patsy Young, a neighbor.

Mr. Paris has not been arrested. The District Attorney's office is looking into the case.