Autopsy inconclusive on inmate shocked by Taser

Tri-City HeraldDecember 27, 2012 

— The autopsy performed on a Benton County jail inmate who died about eight days after being shocked by a Taser was inconclusive and more tests will have to be done to determine why he died, officials said.

Benton County Coroner John Hansens told the Herald that nothing in the autopsy of Kevin T. Culp, 29, of Spokane, performed Wednesday by Dr. Carl Wigren, a forensic pathologist from Seattle, indicated that the Taser was the cause.

But he said he’s reserving any ruling until seeing the results of a toxicology report and microscopic analysis of tissue samples.

Culp was in the jail as a contract inmate for the state Department of Corrections, and reportedly had medical condition that prompted jail officials to house him in a medical isolation cell so that nurses could watch him.

Hansens said Culp had epilepsy that resulted in seizures that could have been a factor in the incident.

“What we’re asking the forensic pathologist to do is take all of the information on the pre-existing medical condition and combine that with the information received from the jail and what actions took place there, and what kind of treatment he received at the hospital to get the cause of death,” he said.

Test results are expected in six to eight weeks.

Culp had two felony convictions for manslaughter from Idaho and was under community supervision in Idaho, jail Cmdr. Jon Law told the Herald last week.

The state Department of Corrections was doing a courtesy hold for Idaho. He was booked into the Benton County jail at the justice center in Kennewick on Dec. 14.

The morning of Dec. 17, he had a medical problem and called nurses for help, but then became combative when two nurses and a corrections officer tried to care for him.

Culp was shocked with a Taser and restrained after the Taser had no immediate visible effect.

About 15 minutes after he was moved to another isolation cell where he could get closer observation, staff discovered that he was unresponsive and called paramedics.

He then was admitted to Kadlec, where he spent eight days before he died.

The Tri-City Special Investigative Unit is conducting an independent investigation of the incident. The unit is a multi-jurisdictional group of detectives and administrators from various Tri-City law enforcement agencies and designed to perform external investigations of shootings involving police officers or other types of serious incidents involving police agencies.

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