In May 1979, Los Angeles pathologists blamed the “massive intravascular diploma” on the death of 20-year-old black Jerry Eugene Wright Jr., who was mistaken for a drug user by police. In fact, he was the victim of a brutal robbery. They handcuffed him, put him face down on the ground, and ignored passers-by who warned him that he was struggling to breathe. Mr. Wright’s family was later awarded $ 2.1 million after suing for unlawful death.
A jury near the city of Augusta has ruled that Larry Gardner, 33, died of a heart attack caused by a cell phone in August 1984 after authorities arrested him on charges of robbing marijuana shops. Mr Gardner’s death sparked riots after he was reportedly beaten in custody.
In the case of two brothers who died in police custody 15 years apart, Burlington County, New Jersey authorities listed the properties of the sickle cell. They first used it to explain the sudden death of 20-year-old Sidney Miles as he fled from officers who tried to arrest him in 1984 on charges of driving without a license.
They recalled when her brother, 28-year-old Catherine Miles, stopped breathing in 1999 after police shot her with pepper spray, restraining her from an apparent mental breakdown in which she called out the name of her dead brother. The same pathologist, Dr. Dante Ragasa, performed both autopsies.
“There have been allegations of police brutality in Sydney’s death, but it was not,” Interim District Attorney James Ames Rowe told reporters in 1999. “Ly’s tragically reflect on what happened to Sydney.”
“There was no behavior by the police,” he added.
The death of 14-year-old Florida boy Martin Lee Anderson shows the possible pitfalls as medical researchers rush to accuse him of having a sickle cell.
An autopsy revealed that Martin’s death was normal, and that was why he stopped breathing in January 2006. However, an investigation later revealed that he had died after being trained by a trainer in Bay County Jail in a juvenile detention center to punch and knock him to his knees. He tied them up, pressed their fingers into the pressure points, and covered his mouth, forcing him to inhale ammonia.