DA: Police misconduct in Tennessee man's death unlikely

AP News
|
Posted: Jul 22, 2015 12:06 AM

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (AP) — A Tennessee man who died hours after he was detained by police in Mississippi had been hogtied face-down on a stretcher, according to a witness.

But a state official said later Tuesday that a preliminary investigation indicates no police misconduct.

Multiple news outlets report that 30-year-old Memphis chemical engineer Troy Goode died in a hospital Saturday night, two hours after being detained by the Southaven Police Department.

Tim Edwards, a lawyer for Goode's family, told the Associated Press on Tuesday, "Positional asphyxiation is what we believe was the most likely cause of death."

Edwards said he has hired a forensic pathologist to complete an independent toxicology report. He did not name the pathologist. Edwards said the medical examiner in Jackson has completed an autopsy and the body has been released to Goode's family.

The district attorney who said he was asked by the Southaven Police Department to conduct an independent investigation of Goode's detention and death said he was told by DeSoto County Coroner Jeffrey Pounders on Tuesday that preliminary autopsy findings show Goode likely died of "either a heart or lung condition." John Champion, district attorney for the 17th District, told The Associated Press that "unless something changes" with the autopsy findings, he is going to conclude that "there was no misconduct on behalf of police."

Pounders is the official who ordered the autopsy, according to Champion, who confirmed that the autopsy was conducted by the state medical examiner's office in Jackson. Champion said it will be weeks before a final toxicology report is ready.

Goode and his wife, Kelli, had been on their way to a Widespread Panic concert in Southaven that night.

Edwards said Goode and his wife were in the parking lot of the concert when they decided to leave. They then stopped at another parking lot, near a restaurant. He said Goode had taken a small amount of LSD. He said other "participants" in the drug did not experience any trouble.

Southaven Police Chief Tom Long had said authorities were called to a parking lot and emergency personnel detained Goode and took him to Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto, where he died a few hours later.

"Officers were informed that the individual acting erratically was doing so on an alleged LSD overdose," Long said.

David McLaughlin, a Memphis attorney, said he witnessed the incident and posted a video of the arrest on YouTube, saying it shows Goode being restrained, face-down on a stretcher with his legs pulled back and bound, the Clarion-Ledger newspaper of Jackson reported. (http://on.thec-l.com/1ebY3ve ).

"Paramedics arrived on scene, and I see them put him in a four-point restraint or hogtie, I don't know how else to describe it," McLaughlin told the newspaper.

McLaughlin added, "He looked to me like he was struggling or convulsing or both. He appeared to be in distress to me."

The video, also posted by WREG-TV of Memphis, appears to have been shot from across a parking lot and shows a man, identified by McLaughlin as Goode, on a gurney being loaded into an ambulance.

Long said in an email that Goode was "acting strange and not cooperative." He added, "Officers attempted to detain the subject who began to resist and run from them again."

Long said in his statement that paramedics took Goode to the hospital for treatment for a possible drug overdose. Long said a toxicology report may take two months. He said an autopsy was conducted at the crime lab in Jackson.

Asking about the hog-tying incident, Southaven police spokesman Lt. Mark Little told news media outlets that "it's nothing that's illegal."

"It's called restraining."

"We're just basically keeping him from kicking and hurting someone," Little said.

Edwards said the family is distraught and looking for answers, but they are not jumping to conclusions. Family members are not commenting because they are "not in the frame of mind" to do so.

Edwards said Goode was 6-foot-1, 145 pounds and a "rail thin," intelligent man who worked as an engineer for nexAir, a distributor of atmospheric gases and welding supplies based in Memphis. He said Goode graduated with honors from Christian Brothers University in Memphis.

"This guy was exceptional. He was quite bright," Edwards said.

"He was not a criminal," Edwards added. "He was a highly compensated individual who made a mistake, and now he's dead because of it," Edwards said.

___

Associated Press writers Jack Elliott in Jackson, Mississippi; Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee; and Lisa J. Adams in Atlanta, contributed to this report.