“Excited delirium:” Coroner blames Oakland police taser death on syndrome

Marcellus Toney, 45, died while in Oakland police custody. (Courtesy of Lamesha Toney)

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OAKLAND — A 45-year-old man restrained and Tased by Oakland police last fall after he allegedly resisted arrest and attacked an officer died accidentally from “excited delirium syndrome,” according to an autopsy report obtained exclusively by the Bay Area News Group.

The cause-of-death finding — associated almost exclusively with in-custody law enforcement deaths and often linked to Tasers — has fueled outrage by his widow and activists upset over the death of Marcellus Toney, an Oakland truck driver who died Sept. 28 after a police encounter.

“My thoughts are that’s bull(expletive),” said Toney’s wife, Lamesha Toney. “My thoughts are they made that up as a cause of death. There’s a lot of people getting killed by Tasers. A lot of people killed by police.”

Marcellus Toney (Courtesy of Lamesha Toney)

While the syndrome may be foreign to most people, it has been cited historically in medical texts, some experts say. Records compiled by an Amnesty International researcher show that the syndrome was cited as the cause of death in 75 of 330 Taser-related incidents in the previous decade. The condition can occur after an intense struggle triggers a flight-or-fight response in people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, creating adrenaline and causing the heart to race.

Critics say the syndrome is a way to deflect attention from police misconduct and the dangers of Tasers, while proponents say it’s a well-documented medical condition that police often encounter.

Alameda County medical examiner Judy Melinek also listed acute alcohol and methamphetamine intoxication as a cause, and cardiovascular disease, obesity and chronic cocaine abuse as contributing factors.

“If that is what they are saying the cause of death is, that solidifies the assertion that he was tased to death,” …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Health

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