Autopsy on Oak Harbor man still not complete

FREMONT He died while in police custody moments after being shocked three times by a sheriff deputy
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

FREMONT

He died while in police custody moments after being shocked three times by a sheriff deputy using a Taser weapon, but 10 weeks later the Sandusky County coroner is still unable to report what killed Craig Burdine.

Burdine, 37, a resident of Oak Harbor, died Aug. 11.

In recent years state lawmakers in Columbus made it easier for coroners to withhold some documents related to autopsies through exemptions to the state's public records law, but finished autopsy reports remain public documents.

Sandusky County Coroner John Wukie has not returned calls seeking comment concerning information related to the autopsy for Burdine. He previously said the autopsy report likely would be available inmid-September.

The Lucas County Coroner's Office, which performed the autopsy for Wukie, said toxicology reports have been completed and the autopsy is awaiting approval from Wukie.

"As soon as he'll tell me he's done then I'm done too," said Dr. Cynthia Beisser, whoperformed the autopsy.

Police believe Burdine was intoxicated when he was arrested but that has not been confirmed pending approval of the final autopsy report.

Sheriff David Gangwer was fairly certain days after Burdine died that his officers had properly handled the situation.

"I'm quite confident everything we did was OK," he said. "I'm sure it wasn't the Taser that killed him. I'm pretty confident of that."

But an internal investigation of Burdine's death can not be completed by the sheriff's office until the autopsy report is made available, Gangwer said.

Burdine was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and assault, among other charges, after an altercation in Fremont.

The incident began when Burdine "launched onto" a 32-year-old Fremont man during a party at a home on Sycamore Street in Fremont, with both men landing in a fire pit, according to a police report. Burdine then ran "into a few fences, damaged some vehicles and houses," police said.