Dep. coroner followed narrative

Autopsy was based on what police told her, Beisser says responding to questions in deposition
Register
Feb 1, 2014

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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Comments

BabyMomma

Of course the video is compromised, it's Sandusky County. The whole damn Sheriff Department is compromised!!!

YoMamma

Reminds me of the popo in Rambo!

Babo

This is another example of delivering a pre-determined outcome for law enforcement or government. It has happened before with the Lucas County Coroner's office as led by Coroner James Patrick and there are other cases too.

It took federal authorities to correct a bad autopsy in a Lucas County jail death case that ultimately resulted in a federal criminal case against the Sheriff and jail officers for violation of civil rights. Federal authorities need to be contacted in this case and this time the investigation should extend to the too cozy relationship between the Lucas Co, Coroner's office and area law enforcement.

Also, the AG's office misled the Burdine family by claiming they can only prosecute a felony due to the length of time since the death. Under Ohio law, if a public officer abuses their office to commit an alleged crime, the statute of limitations is tolled as long as that officer is in office.

So a misdemeanor case of dereliction of duty, or interference with civil rights for example could still be brought up to two years after the defendant has left office and if still employed there is effectively no statute of limitations. Similarly obstruction of justice, or manslaughter could be filed up to six years after the officer leaves office.

Sal Dali

How convenient she made her ruling based on what she was told by law enforcement and a few critical minutes of the surveillance footage are missing. One would wonder why the AG's office is not investigating the misconduct and incompetence of the Sandusky County Sheriff's Office. Policing "their way" seems to be a trend. Has anyone kept track of how many questionable cases have been made public in the last decade or so?