An autopsy has been released in a wrongful death suit of a 150 pound 17-year-old, implicating Alabama Police.
The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences has ruled the cause of death undetermined, not because the death is suspect, but instead because any number of multiple police inflicted injuries or a combination of them could be the culprit(s).
The findings included blunt force injuries and anoxic/hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, which is when the brain does not receive enough oxygen.
Nancy Smith, the mother of the teen, filed a federal lawsuit in March claiming assault and battery, wrongful death, and excessive force.
The lawsuit claims Smith’s son was set up in a drug sting by Huntsville Police using an 18-year-old confidential informant. At some point an officer in plain clothes ran towards Smith’s son without identifying themselves.
According to court documents the teen ran.
The documents go on to say that the officer threw him to the ground, cuffed him and pepper-sprayed him. The autopsy report also found that the teens neck was restrained.
The Smith family lawsuit claims police told paramedics the 17-year-old swallowed a bag of drugs.
In an effort to retrieve the alleged bag, the lawsuit says police had to shove a sharp object into the teenagers throat. Lawyers for the Smiths say drugs were never found in his throat or stomach.
The autopsy report confirms this, stating that there was no indication of anything unusual found in the teens body.
The autopsy goes on to say:
“Because of the circumstances of this event, it is difficult to discern if the decedent died from a drug overdose or an asphyxia event exacerbated by either the occlusion of the airway by the foreign object, a possible vascular occlusion associated with the neck restraint, or from a combination of all the events that transpired during this incident.”
The Huntsville Police Department and the Huntsville city attorney have not commented on the case apart from denying any wrong doing. The PD has not responded to an Appalachian Area News email request for a statement.
Huntsville Police have however admitted two pieces of evidence into the case. The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences determined they were both zip-lock bags of MDMA, also know as Ecstasy, which were found on the teens person.