William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Friday, 28, October, 2011

Graduate School–Deaths in Custody

Filed under: Forensics,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 12:21

I. Situations
A. Arrest
B. Jail/Prison
C. Hospital/nursing home
D. Controversy
1. Lawsuit
2. Documentation
3. Consulting another agency
4. Keep your mouth shut
a. Forbes
b. Attica
5. Toxicology

II. Arrest
A. Occur after a violent struggle
1. After the arrest, combination of stress and drugs
2. Struggle, subdued, quiet, not breathing
3. Minor, if any injuries
4. Drugs
a. alcohol
b. P.C.P.
c. cocaine
5. Handcuff injuries

B. Mechanism
1. Catecholamine release
2. Increase heart rate, contractility, O2 demand
3. Overdrive heart, cause arrhythmia
4. After arrest
5. People complain of retribution

C. Physiologic effects
1. Cardiac arrhythmia
2. Lucky, enlarged heart
3. Really lucky, toxicology

III. Hogtie/chokehold/tazer
A. Hogtie
1. Wrists tied/cuffed to ankles
2. Rope around neck
3. Positional asphyxia
a. Ruled out

B. Chokehold
1. Bar-arm
a. Forearm to compress windpipe
b. Dangerous, not taught
c. Sudden death
2. Carotid sleeper hold
a. Moderately safer
C. Tazer
1. Shoot barbs electric charge
2. Cardiac arrythmias

IV. Police shootings
A. Tremendous controversy
B. Lawsuits

V. Jail/Prison
A. Jail vs. Prison
1. Jail, short term confinement
a. Minor offenses
b. Awaiting trial
c. Farmed out for space
d. Less professional staff
e. Lake County Cases
i. Smuggled drugs and jewelry
ii. Hanged

2. Prison long term
a. Worse folks
b. Tougher crowd
c. Interpersonal violence

B. Initial stages of confinement
1. Adjustment difficult

C. Prison violence
1. People don’t know how to behave
2. Poor impulse control

D. Disease
1. Ageing population
2. TB, Hepatitis, HIV
3. Confining authority responsible
a. Guard “slow code”

VI. Hospital/nursing home
A. Psychiatric hospitals
1. Suicide is a risk
2. Determined people can find a way
3. Choking on toilet paper

B. Dementia
1. Escape
2. Poor quality of care
C. Restraints

VII. Techniques
A. Photography
B. Incise wrists and ankles
C. Filet back
D. Analogue of child abuse

1 Comment »

  1. Reading your chart, I am reminded of an infamous case from my area.

    Guy was named “Malice Green”, which sounds like his parents were predicting a criminal career…Green was a resident of Detroit.

    Anyway, this was a few months after Rodney King became well-known. Green died in custody (under care in a hospital) after a struggle during the arrest. The struggle included multiple strikes on the head with a hard object (nightstick or MagLite-style flashlight).

    Most damningly for the media-circus, Green had dark skin and the officers had light skin.

    At various trials related to the case, different doctors gave different opinions about the cause of Mr. Green’s death. One stated it was the blunt-force trauma to the head; another stated that it might have been related to drugs and incipient heart conditions.

    The trial was very public and media-driven; the Mayor had publicly stated his belief in the officers’ guilt before the Police finished their internal investigation. There were suspicions that jurors were influenced by the potential for riots. There were also allegations that inside-the-coroners-office politics caused the examining physician to alter his report…

    Such things are newsworthy, hopefully because they are rare.

    But I wonder how often the medical examiner feels a pressure to support one side or the other in a death-in-custody case.

    Comment by karrde — Friday, 28, October, 2011 @ 15:34 | Reply

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