In May 1979, Los Angeles pathologists blamed “massive intravascular sickling” within the demise of Jerry Eugene Wright Jr., a 20-year-old Black man whom law enforcement officials had mistaken for a drug consumer. In truth, he had been the sufferer of a violent theft; they handcuffed him, put him facedown on the bottom and ignored bystanders who warned that he was struggling to breathe. Mr. Wright’s household was later awarded $2.1 million after suing for wrongful demise.
A panel convened by a coroner outdoors Augusta, Ga., concluded that Larry Gardner, 33, had died of cardiopulmonary arrest attributable to sickle cell trait in August 1984 after the authorities arrested him on marijuana and shoplifting prices. Mr. Gardner’s demise led to rioting after it was stated that he had been crushed in custody.
Authorities in Burlington County, N.J., cited sickle cell trait within the circumstances of two brothers who had died in police custody 15 years aside. They used it first to clarify the sudden demise of Sidney Miles, 20, whereas he was fleeing officers who sought to arrest him on a cost of driving with no license in 1984.
They cited it once more when his brother, Cleathern Miles, 28, stopped inhaling 1999 after the police shot him with pepper spray and restrained him within the midst of an obvious psychological breakdown — throughout which he was calling out his lifeless brother’s title. The similar pathologist, Dr. Dante Ragasa, performed each autopsies.
“There were allegations of police brutality in Sidney’s death, but that was not the case,” the performing county prosecutor, James Gerrow, instructed reporters in 1999. “Sadly and tragically, this mirrors what happened to Sidney.”
“There was,” he added, “no police misconduct in either case.”
The demise of Martin Lee Anderson, the 14-year-old Florida boy, reveals the potential pitfalls when health workers rush responsible sickle cell trait.
An post-mortem deemed Martin’s demise to be pure, saying the trait was why he had immediately stopped inhaling January 2006. But a later inquiry discovered that he had died after drill instructors at a Bay County, Fla., juvenile detention middle punched and kneed him, pinned him down, pressed their fingers into stress factors and lined his mouth whereas forcing him to inhale ammonia.