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Medical Examiner: Meth Killed Samuel See

by Paul Bass | Jan 6, 2014 4:51 pm

(13) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Health, Higher Ed, Legal Writes

Facebook A Yale assistant English professor who died in the police lock-up suffered a heart attack after taking methamphetamine, according to a newly concluded report on his death.

The report was prepared by Chief State Medical Examiner James Gill. He reported on the results to the Independent Monday afternoon.

The professor, Samuel See (pictured), died accidentally, Gill concluded. He described the cause of death as “acute methamphetamine and amphetamine intoxication with recent miocardial infarct.”

Marshals discovered See’s body at 6 a.m. on Nov. 24. See, who was 34, had been arrested the night before in a domestic dispute with his husband. Both men had court-ordered protective orders barring them from having contact with each other.

The case provoked a protest march and questions from See’s friends and family about how exactly he died—and whether marshals mishandled his case.

Monday’s report confirms what police said from the beginning: that See did not commit suicide.

Still left in question: When did he take the drugs? Did he take them before police arrested him? If so, why didn’t a warning flag go up at the hospital, where he was treated before being taken to the lock-up? Did he somehow manage to bring drugs into the lock-up?

The medical examiner’s investigation did not determine when See had taken the drugs. The death certificate lists the “date/time of injury” as “unknown.”

Assistant Police Chief Archie Generoso, who is overseeing an internal investigation into the handling of the See case, refused Monday afternoon to say whether the probe turned up evidence of drugs having been in the lock-up. He said he won’t comment on a pending investigation; he claimed this investigation is not yet complete.

Generoso also said he hadn’t yet been made aware of the results of the medical examiner’s report.

“I cannot comment on an open investigation. Once we receive the official autopsy report from the medical examiner, in consultation with the state’s attorney’s office, we will either continue our investigation or close it,” Generoso said.

Gill, the medical examiner, told the Independent Monday that he can’t comment on “specific cases.”

“In general, a recent myocardial infarct means that a person had damage to the heart from not enough oxygen getting to it. Recent means a few days earlier,” Gill stated. “Amphetamines and methamphetamine can cause heart damage such as a myocardial infarct (death of heart tissue) and this damage can cause a fatal arrhythmia of the heart right away or days later. Amphetamines and methamphetamines can also cause a sudden fatal arrhythmia of the heart.

“In general, amphetamine can be smoked, ingested, snorted, or injected. A fatal irregular rhythm of the heart (what some people may call a heart attack) can be caused by methamphetamine or amphetamine.  In general it is not so much as an “overdose” with amph/meth deaths. These are drugs that can trigger heart arrhythmias at a variety of levels as well as cause heart damage (also known as a heart attack).” 

Paul Bass Photo See’s sister (at right in photo; she declined to be interviewed or identified by name) addressed a Dec. 10 protest rally at police headquarters.  “I called the police for help for Sam. Now he’s dead,” she said.

Meanwhile, Yale-New Haven Hospital spokesman Mark D’Antonio was asked about the protocol for testing for drugs and releasing patients who may be high on drugs. He responded with this official statement:

“Patients who come in under police custody are first and foremost, exactly that—patients.  The medical staff treat them as patients with a medical condition first and foremost, and they are not viewed as prisoners. The police who bring in a patient like this are usually close by and monitor that patient, along with assistance they may require from the members of the YNHH protective services dept who always work in cooperation with outside law enforcement agencies when there is a patient brought in by law enforcement. It’s important to note our protective services professionals are always there to assist with cases like this. Patients brought in escorted by law enforcement receive the best care possible just like every other patient that presents to our ED.

“I can’t speak to specifics to his case but in general that is how these types of cases are handled. What is essential to understand is that they are our patients first, and they receive the best care possible always with no exceptions whatsoever.

“I can’t speak to the question of drug testing b c that gets into a specific case. Each case is different so we can’t address that or even paint with a broad brush of generalities or declare what is usually done. Each case is handled individually, separate and distinctly because no two cases would ever be identical.

“Finally, a patient is cleared for discharge when the medical staff in the ED declares that patient fit for discharge. Its the discretion of the medical staff attending to each patient to make that esoteric decision. They factor in all variables.”

Paul Bass Photo

Thomas MacMillan contributed reporting.

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posted by: Charl on January 6, 2014  8:48pm

So, the man in charge of the internal investigation (looking your way, Generoso) claims he didn’t know about the medical report and cause of death!!??  But the reporter just happened to?

Quite convenient no time of death is listed as well…. Know why that is convenient?

Because nobody will be held accountable for not making the regular rounds.

I hope at least a civil case is brought against the marshalls, NHPD, and YNHH.  Hopefully at least that way playing the three against each other, The Truth (capital letters) will come out.


Thanks for the update, NHI.  Now, any word on an arrest for the Yale man with gun hoax??

[Ed.: They’re still looking for him.]

posted by: citysavior on January 6, 2014  10:02pm

RIP Samuel See . Hope your family and friends issue a statement of apology to the Police for accusing them of actions that killed Samuel. It’s a tragedy but to jump to conclusions did not help this incident. It appears by all accounts that Samuel had another side to him that family and friends were unaware of.

posted by: Ozzie on January 7, 2014  9:29am

Where all the people who were blaming the police for Mr. See’s death now. Mr. See caused his own death unfortunately by ingesting to much Methamphetamine

posted by: Dwightstreeter on January 7, 2014  9:55am

When an educated white professional dies in police custody it has to be suspicious, but if a poor person of color dies under the same circumstances, different presumptions are generated.

Surprise people: the privileged classes use drugs and engage in self-destructive behavior too. Haven’t we lost enough celebrities yet to acknowledge that?
This is what unconscious racism looks like.

posted by: robn on January 7, 2014  10:19am

Mr. See and his husband had an extremely troubled relationship, evidenced by the restraining orders. An accomplished academic being dragged out of his home to the police station isn’t really explained by anger issues. Given that, I’m wondering why so many other accomplished academics reacted with a march before there was a toxicology report.

posted by: Trustme on January 7, 2014  10:31am

To everyone that pointed the finger before at the NHPD, now who will you blame? The medical examiner provided a cause of death, one which had nothing to do with the police. Where are the protestors now? Is there an apology protest in the works? It is tragic that a man had to die, but this goes to show premature judgements aren’t always correct.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on January 7, 2014  11:09am

Questions STILL remain (and are appropriate) about why this man was arrested in his home. And new questions arise about when/how he got drugs into his system that went undetected by the officials (to include the hospital) that had him in custody. 

The disclosure of information that may reveal that Mr. See was not brutalized by the police, does not mean that the questions raised and the inquiry sought by protesters and concerned/questioning citizens were inappropriate by any means.

When citizens lose the RIGHT or the COURAGE to question their government, THEN tyranny is in full effect. 

The Rev. Mr. Samuel T. Ross-Lee

posted by: robn on January 7, 2014  1:11pm

STRL,

Sorry but those questions DO NOT remain. They’re answered by NHI reporting..

WHY HE WAS ARRESTED
“Police arrested See Saturday at his home Saturday during a dispute between him and his husband..See..allegedly yelled at an arresting officer, “I will kill you … I will destroy you.””

WHY THE DRUGS THAT KILLED HIM WEREN’T DETECTED
“The Medical Examiner explained that “..methamphetamine..can cause a fatal arrhythmia of the heart right away or days later.””

posted by: Hill South on January 7, 2014  1:45pm

I understand that with the loss a loved one we often have unanswerable questions of ‘WHY’ and no amount of reasonable answers will bring satisfaction or relief from that pain. It is a part of the grieving process that we want to be able to place the blame on someone or something, because it helps us to rationalize what our grieving self can’t cope with ... at that time. But eventual coping with death is something that whole and healthy people must do to remain whole and healthy. Crystal meth affects the cardiovascular system by increasing heart rate and blood pressure, which can cause permanent damage to blood vessels in the brain. This may increase the likelihood of a stroke. It can also cause an irregular heartbeat, and chronic use can result in cardiovascular collapse and death. Damage to the heart can occur suddenly or over time and can be undetectable unless an incident occurs that causes one to seek treatment for that incident (discomfort, heaviness, pressure, aching, burning, fullness, squeezing, painful feeling in your chest or sudden collapse). If Mr. See was not experiencing or complaining any of these symptoms at the time he was brought into the ER for treatment of an eye laceration, there would have been no need for the physicians to assume that there was an issue with his heart that needed to be checked. I KNOW - I have lived for several years with heart disease that was not diagnosed until recently when I had a series of severe angina attacks ... but the shortness of breath that I was experiencing for over 2 months was thought by physicians to be pre-asthmatic symptoms and my heart was not checked until the inhalers stopped relieving the symptoms. See’s death is sad, but the responsibility for his death falls on the failure of his heart. The responsibility for the actions that caused the damage to his heart was most likely See’s. That is also sad ... but nonetheless true. Let go of the blame ... it won’t help.

posted by: dmarie on January 7, 2014  2:38pm

robn, Mr. See allegedly said those thing as he was being arrested. And he was being arrested for violating a restraining order when he was in his own home, and the person who had the order against him had come THERE. How can you be violating a restraining order when the person comes to you? Should he have run away from his own home? Certainly not. He called the police, as he should have. And he should not have been arrested in the first place.

posted by: robn on January 7, 2014  3:45pm

DM,

According to the police report, the spouse Ganglani, spent two hours at See’s house collecting his belongings(and violating the restraining order against him, Ganglani). Either See let him in (violating the retraining order against him, See), or See discovered Ganglani in his house and confronted him (in violation of the retraining order against him, See).
Seems unfair, but a rational person knowing their legal standing would have called the cops and stayed away.

posted by: A Contrarian on January 8, 2014  1:15pm

“Affairs of the Heart” are not rational.  And otherwise rational men behave in seemingly irrational ways all the time.  See wasn’t a lawyer, but he could have called one, perhaps.  The cops were called, but not by either party.  When police show up at your house and want to arrest you and take you away during a domestic dispute, how rational are you likely to be?  Is anger in this case rational or not?

posted by: A Contrarian on January 8, 2014  1:37pm

I would just note that some might be interested in the long posts by Mr. See’s sister in the comments of the Yale Daily News.

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