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Dep. coroner followed narrative

Register • Feb 2, 2014 at 9:28 AM

Click here to read deposition

Lucas County deputy coroner Cynthia Beisser knew how Craig Burdine died, but she wasn't sure where exactly, or when, according to a deposition Beisser gave Nov. 10, 2010. 

Attorney General Mike DeWine's officie is currently conducting a criminal investigation into Burdine's death at the Sandusky County Jail on Aug. 11, 2007.

“My understanding was that he was brought in. He was very combative, struggling," Beisser states in the deposition. "Somebody thought they broke his arm and EMS was called. They arrived, he was placed on the backboard in a prone position. He became unresponsive and was transported.”

But surveillance video doesn't show Burdine being combative; he is unresponsive upon arrival at the jail.  

The circumstances she knew dictated her ruling, Beisser said, and those circumstances were provided by deputies, corrections officers and Fremont police detective Sean O'Connell. O'Connell and another officer attended the autopsy performed by Beisser days after Burdine died. 

She relied on the information they provided and didn't request an independent review, according to the deposition. 

Question: "Do you know where he became unresponsive?"

Beisser: "From review of the records it was in the jail area. I don't know exactly where in the jail."

Question: "Inside the jail?"

Beisser: "I don't know exact. Not outside. It was in the building as I understand." 

The surveillance video provided is compromised, with the audio disappearing for several minutes after the deputy's cruiser arrives inside the jail sallyport. 

Beisser ruled Burdine's death the result of excited delirium brought on by drug and alcohol abuse, a ruling disputed in court documents by Dr. Michael Baden, a New York state medical examiner. 

Baden gets cross-examined

The excited delrium finding is almost exclusively used for deaths involving police custody cases. 

Question: "You said that there were about, I think you said, less than 10 other cases where you made a finding of excited delirium?" 

Beisser: "That's probably true, yes." 

Question: "And in all of those cases that involved contact with law enforcemnt, didn't it?"

Beisser: "As far as I know, yes."

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