Oak Harbor man who died had history of mental illness

FREMONT— The family of a man who died after being apprehended by law enforcement officials says he ha
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010


FREMONT — The family of a man who died after being apprehended by law enforcement officials says he had a history of mental illness and deserved better care.

Craig A. Burdine, 37, of Oak Harbor died Saturday after he allegedly fought with Fremont police officers and Sandusky County deputies.

Click here for an index to related articles. 

The incident began at a party on Sycamore Street in Fremont, where Burdine "launched onto" a 32-year-old Fremont man and "they both fell into the fire pit," said Monte Huss, Fremont police chief.

Both men were burned, and the two then ran "into a few fences, damaged some vehicles and houses," Huss said. Burdine also ran his head into a glass window, he said.

"Officers tried to get him to calm down, and he lunged at officers," Huss said.

Police used pepper spray to try to subdue Burdine after he kicked and spit at officers, the report said. Burdine was taken to Sandusky County Jail at 3:34 a.m., and EMS workers were called for help less than 15 minutes later when Burdine began vomiting.

"We hadn't even taken him into custody yet," said Sandusky County Sheriff David Gangwer. "He was combative, and he got very sick."

Burdine tried to bite a deputy at the Sandusky County Jail and a Taser gun was used "several" times, having "no effect" on 6-foot tall, 200-pound man, according to the police report.

Burdine stopped breathing after he was loaded into the ambulance, the report said. Emergency personnel performed CPR, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

A call to the Sandusky County coroner for details on the circumstances of Burdine's death was not returned Monday.

Burdine suffered from both post-traumatic stress disorder -- from a previous police arrest experience in 1989 -- and dyslexia, his father said.

"People with disabilities have a hell of a time in life, and right here it has cost him his life," said his father, Jess Burdine, 73.

Burdine left his parents' house about 10:30 p.m. to check on a rental property for his parents' business, Burdine Rental Properties, and "he never came home," Jess Burdine said.

"My whole family is in a terrible condition over this because Craig was only 37 years old," Jess Burdine said. "We heard the news, and we don't understand what is going on. None of it makes any sense to what I know."

Jess Burdine said a family lawyer may be looking to take action when the circumstances of his son's death are revealed.

"Providing that the autopsy comes back like we think that it will, there will be federal charges filed in court," Jess Burdine said.

Jess Burdine said his son's disorder was known to "kick in" if he were involved in a violent act. "Actually, it's chaos after that," he said, adding that he is concerned about how well police dealt with his son.

Huss said he was not aware of any mental issues with Burdine. Starting last year, several officers have been undergoing Critical Incident Training provided annually through the National Alliance on Mental Illness to deal with such situations.

Burdine, the youngest of six siblings, enjoyed sports including NASCAR racing.

"From the day he could talk he was a Dallas Cowboys fan," Jess Burdine said, adding that his son was "a very loving, caring person" who was organized and clean.

Burdine, a 1989 graduate of Oak Harbor High School, did not have a full-time job but had helped with odds and ends at his family's business.

Services for Burdine will be at Robinson-Henn-Brossia & Walker Funeral Home in Oak Harbor.

Burdine had previous arrest, Taser incident in Fremont:

* Burdine was arrested by Fremont Police in October 2005 on charges of burglary, having weapons under disability and drug abuse. The incident happened at a neighbor's home when he was living in Fremont.

The victims said they were sleeping about 7:30 a.m. when they woke up to the sound of breaking glass. They found Burdine standing in their living room covered in blood and wearing no clothing, the police report said.

Burdine then ran back to his property and surrendered at gunpoint to police, the report said. But before entering the police cruiser, Burdine became "combative" and officers used a Taser gun to subdue him with "no effects." Police also found a 9 mm handgun in Burdine's home, along with a crack pipe and small bags of suspected crack cocaine, the report said.

Burdine told police he "had a bad dream" and ran to the neighbor's house for water, and when they did not answer the door he "jumped head first through the front window," the report said.