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Autopsy shows man died from cocaine, not stun gun hit
    #3932596 - 03/17/05 10:43 PM (11 years, 8 months ago)

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/st...E1?OpenDocument

Autopsy shows man died from cocaine, not stun gun hit

Post-Dispatch
03/16/2005

COLUMBIA, ILL.

Autopsy shows man died from cocaine, not stun gun hit

A man who collapsed hours after he was hit with a Taser stun gun during a disturbance at his Columbia, Ill., home Dec. 16 actually died from a cocaine overdose, according to autopsy results presented at an inquest Wednesday.

Columbia police Officer Shawn Westfall testified he hit Lyle L. Nelson eight times with his Taser stun gun as Nelson fought to prevent Westfall and two other officers from removing him from a bathroom.

Westfall was not sure how many of the Taser hits took effect. He said Nelson, 35, eventually was subdued, apologized and seemed normal.

Nelson admitted he had been smoking crack, and said he had started using the drug when he was 18, Westfall testified.

Five hours later, Nelson collapsed in a cell after he was booked into the Monroe County Jail in Waterloo.

There have been a few deaths around the country among people restrained with Taser guns, but authorities doubt stunning was a factor in Nelson's death hours later. The manufacturer says Tasers are nonlethal.

Westfall testified that police had been called for two previous disturbances at Nelson's home and knew he had a history of cocaine use.

Jailer Randy Unterseh testified that Nelson answered all questions and seemed fine while being booked, but later began ripping at papers and the mattress in his cell and splashing himself with water from the toilet.

Sheriff's deputies and Waterloo police were summoned. They ordered an ambulance when Nelson collapsed against a wall.

Deputy Robert Young testified that officers tried to revive Nelson. He was rushed to Red Bud Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 6 a.m.

Harold Cowell, a deputy Randolph County coroner, testified that lab tests from an autopsy conducted by Dr. Raj Nanduri showed Nelson died of "acute cocaine toxicity." The coroner's jury ruled death was accidental.

Coroner Randy Dudenbostel allowed Nelson's wife, Tiffany, and her attorney, Kenneth M. Brison of Clayton, to question witnesses. No suit has been filed. Brison said he was only investigating at this point.


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