Man’s death ruled homi­cide

51-year-old strug­gled with hospi­tal staff, po­lice of­fi­cer

Daily Southtown (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - By Zak Koeske

The death of a 51-year-old man who stopped breath­ing after a strug­gle with a Dolton po­lice of­fi­cer and hospi­tal staff at Ad­vo­cate Christ Med­i­cal Cen­ter ear­lier this year has been ruled a homi­cide, of­fi­cials said.

Solomon Ag­womoh, whose wife, as spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tor of his es­tate, is su­ing Dolton over his death, was taken to the Oak Lawn hospi­tal in po­lice cus­tody March 10, sus­pected of driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence fol­low­ing a two-ve­hi­cle crash in Dolton.

The fa­ther of four from South Hol­land ap­par­ently be­came ag­i­tated and com­bat­ive at the hospi­tal after staff at­tempted to per­form a CT scan. As a re­sult, he was shocked with a stun gun, re­strained face­down with hand­cuffs and in­jected with a cock­tail of seda­tives, ac­cord­ing to a re­cently re­leased au­topsy re­port.

Within min­utes, Ag­womoh had stopped breath­ing, and within the hour he was pro­nounced dead, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

The cause of Ag­womoh’s death was mul­ti­fac­to­rial, an as­sis­tant med­i­cal ex­am­iner de­ter­mined, the re­sult of heart dis­ease in­volv­ing high blood pres­sure and hard­en­ing of the ar­ter­ies, ex­ac­er­bated by the stress of a phys­i­cal strug­gle.

His death was ruled a homi­cide, a spokes­woman for the Cook County med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s of­fice ex­plained, be­cause the strug­gle in­volved an­other per­son.

“In gen­eral, when death in­volves a com­bi­na­tion of nat­u­ral pro­cesses and ex­ter­nal fac­tors, pref­er­ence is given to the non­nat­u­ral man­ner of death,” spokes­woman Natalia Derevyanny said.

Bob Naple­ton, a lawyer for Ag­womoh’s fam­ily, called the au­topsy re­sults “very re­veal­ing” and said they were con­sis­tent with al­le­ga­tions made in a law­suit he filed against Dolton just days after the in­ci­dent.

“There is no doubt the taser de­vice de­ployed by the Dolton Po­lice while Mr. Ag­womoh was in their care, cus­tody and con­trol played ama­jor role in Mr. Ag­womoh’s death, per the re­port,” Naple­ton said in a state­ment.

Dolton po­lice Chief Robert Collins said he had not seen the au­topsy re­port and did not wish to com­ment on it. At the time of the in­ci­dent, Collins said the of­fi­cer who used the stun gun had done “ev­ery­thing by the book,” and re­it­er­ated that he stood by his ear­lier re­marks.

“Ev­ery­thing that I ini­tially told you is still true,” he said. “The of­fi­cer (was) fol­low­ing his train­ing and acted prop­erly.”

A spokes wo­man for the hospi­tal de­clined com­ment on the in­ci­dent,

say­ing it was Ad­vo­cate’s prac­tice not to com­ment on “open in­ves­ti­ga­tions.”

On the day of his death, Ag­womoh, who drove for Chicago Car­riage Cab Com­pany, was in­volved in a crash with an­other ve­hi­cle at the in­ter­sec­tion of Cot­tage Grove Av­enue and Sibley Boule­vard in Dolton at 12:38 a.m., ac­cord­ing to po­lice re­ports.

Ag­womoh was driv­ing west on Sibley in a red Ford Es­cape taxi when he at­tempted tomake a “sud­den” left turn onto Cot­tage Grove and was struck by a pass­ing east­bound driver, po­lice re­ports show. Dolton po­lice, who re­viewed dash­cam video from Ag­womoh’s cab, wrote in their re­port that the crash hap­pened be­cause he “failed to yield the right away to through traf­fic.”

Po­lice found Ag­womoh un­con­scious be­hind the wheel of his car. He even­tu­ally re­gained con­scious­ness, but “ap­peared to be in a delu­sional state,” and ini­tially re­fused to exit his ve­hi­cle, ac­cord­ing to po­lice re­ports.

Po­lice found a plas­tic cup near the driver’s seat area that con­tained a sus­pected al­co­holic bev­er­age, and as a re­sult, an of­fi­cer went with Ag­womoh to the hospi­tal to con­duct a driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence in­ves­ti­ga­tion, re­ports state.

Tox­i­col­ogy re­ports later showed that Ag­womoh’s blood al­co­hol level was .194, more than twice the le­gal limit for driv­ing.

While at the hospi­tal, the Dolton of­fi­cer in­ter­vened after Ag­womoh be­came com­bat­ive with staff, be­gan “yelling odd state­ments” and tried to force hisway off of a stretcher while en route to a CT scan, ac­cord­ing to re­ports.

The of­fi­cer at­tempted to sub­due Ag­womoh us­ing his stun gun’s “drive stun” func­tion— which in­volves press­ing the de­vice against an in­di­vid­ual with­out de­ploy­ing its dart-like elec­trodes —but when that failed, he de­ployed his stun gun car­tridge, re­ports show.

The stun gun em­bed­ded two barbs into Ag­womoh’s ab­domen but did not in­ca­pac­i­tate him, and he lunged at the of­fi­cer, ac­cord­ing to re­ports. The en­su­ing strug­gle ended only after hospi­tal se­cu­rity staff as­sisted in re­strain­ing Ag­womoh and med­i­cal staff in­jected him with seda­tives, re­ports show.

Min­utes later, Ag­womoh lost vi­tal func­tion and was with­out a pulse. At­tempts to re­vive him were un­suc­cess­ful and he was pro­nounced dead 35 min­utes later, ac­cord­ing to the au­topsy re­port.

Af­ter­ward, hospi­tal staff treated the Dolton of­fi­cer for post-trau­matic stress and a hand con­tu­sion. He is de­scribed in po­lice re­ports as “vis­i­bly shaken,” dis­play­ing “un­con­trol­lable shak­ing in his hands” and “un­fit to drive.”

The of­fi­cer was placed on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave un­til the con­clu­sion of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent but has since re­turned to work, Collins said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.