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West Autopsy Released; Medical Examiner to Skip Hearing

P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR
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Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein released Tuesday preliminary autopsy results for Tyrone West, who died in police custody during a traffic stop last summer.

Bernstein said the state medical examiner concluded West died “from cardiac arrhythmia due to cardiac conduction system abnormality complicated by dehydration during police restraint.”  But the medical examiner couldn’t determine “the manner of death” because of “an inability to determine the absolute relative contribution of each of the described factors that caused [West’s] death.”

The release came the day before the city council’s Public Safety Committee is to hear testimony on why the report wasn’t completed within the national standard of 90 days.

Baltimore police say they will have representatives at the hearing, but a spokesman for the state medical examiner said they will not have any representatives there. The spokesman, Bruce Goldfarb, said they can’t talk about the case because Bernstein’s investigation is not completed.

The medical examiner announced last week he had completed the autopsy, but declined to release the results. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called for the results to be released as soon as possible in a letter to Bernstein Friday.

West was arrested in July in Northeast Baltimore during a traffic stop.  According to police, he slipped into “medical distress” before being pronounced dead at a hospital.

Councilman Warren Branch is the chairman of the committee.  His spokesman, Kevin Parson, declined to comment on the autopsy results or how they would affect the hearing. Councilman Bill Henry, who sponsored the resolution that called for a hearing, was not available for comment.