Cause of death de­ter­mined for in­mate found un­re­spon­sive

Po­lice con­tin­u­ing to in­ves­ti­gate

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­

Po­lice are con­tin­u­ing to in­ves­ti­gate the cir­cum­stances around the death of a Charles County De­ten­tion Cen­ter in­mate who was found un­re­spon­sive in her cell in early June, and on Thurs­day the au­topsy find­ings were re­leased by the Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fice.

The cause of death for Ash­ley Ni­cole Swann, 30, of La Plata was de­ter­mined to be “Fen­tanyl in­tox­i­ca­tion,” a sher­iff’s of­fice spokesper­son said, re­fer­ring to a re­port from the Chief Med­i­cal Ex­am­iner’s Of­fice in Bal­ti­more. Though, “… The man­ner of death is un­de­ter­mined,” the sher­iff’s of­fice said in a state­ment. “We are look­ing into the pos­si­bil­ity Ms.

Swann in­gested/in­haled the Fen­tanyl while in­car­cer­ated; how­ever, it is not clear how she ob­tained the drug. This ap­pears to be an iso­lated in­ci­dent and we are con­duct­ing fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion into this case.”

Sim­i­lar to mor­phine, Fen­tanyl is a pow­er­ful opi­oid, but ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health, it can be up to 50 to 100 times more po­tent.

In March 2015, the Drug En­force­ment Agency is­sued a na­tion­wide alert, warn­ing that Fen­tanyl has been linked to an epi­demic of fa­tal over­doses across the coun­try, and is be­ing mixed with heroin to in­crease po­tency. “Fen­tanyl can be lethal and is deadly at very low doses,” the DEA stated, warn­ing law en­force­ment of­fi­cers to avoid ex­po­sure. Though the Sched­ule II nar­cotic is legally pre­scribed for chronic pain man­age­ment, Fen­tanyl is also be­ing man­u­fac­tured in clan­des­tine drug labs.

Around 11:35 p.m. on June 2, Swann ap­peared to be sleep­ing when cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers en­tered the cell and found her, ac­cord­ing to a pre­vi­ous re­port. De­tec­tives re­ported there were no signs of trauma, foul play or sui­cide.

That night, cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers en­tered the woman’s cell that she shared with another in­mate to es­cort her to a rou­tine med­i­cal screen­ing and dis­cov­ered her lay­ing face­down on a mat­tress, un­re­spon­sive, ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease. Of­fi­cers, med­i­cal staff and EMS im­me­di­ately be­gan CPR and ac­ti­vated an AED in an at­tempt to re­sus­ci­tate her, but she was pro­nounced dead.

Charged with first-de­gree as­sault and pos­ses­sion of heroin and crack co­caine, Swann had been ar­rested three days prior, court records in­di­cate. The al­leged vic­tim told po­lice that dur­ing an ar­gu­ment over drugs, Swann al­legedly struck him twice in the face and head with a base­ball bat, caus­ing him to pass out, charg­ing doc­u­ments state. The man re­ported the as­sault to the Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fice at the District 1 Sta­tion in La Plata. Of­fi­cers re­sponded to a res­i­dence in the 9300 block of Slidell Place and found Swann walk­ing out­side, and ar­rested her, re­port­edly find­ing drugs in her pos­ses­sion.

While in cus­tody, Swann filed a crim­i­nal com­plaint against the al­leged vic­tim, and he was charged with sec­ond-de­gree as­sault by way of crim­i­nal sum­mons, court records in­di­cate. She had al­leged in her writ­ten state­ment — pro­vided around 1:45 p.m. on June 2 — that the man she was ac­cused of as­sault­ing had at­tacked her first, and that she had re­tal­i­ated by punch­ing him in the face sev­eral times.

The in­ves­ti­gat­ing is on­go­ing.

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