At issue | Nov. 18 Herald-Leader article, "Coroner won't hold inquest in April death of autistic man; Police tried to subdue him"
When a 21-one-year old man who has autism dies under circumstances that are not fully explained, his family and the community deserve to learn the events leading up to his death through a coroner's inquest.
The Autism Society of the Bluegrass, The Arc of Kentucky, KY-TASH, Kentucky Protection and Advocacy and members of the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities advisory board respectfully request that Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn order an inquest into the death of Roland Campbell, who died while under police and caregiver restraint on April 18.
The Herald-Leader article states, "The manner of death — whether the death was an accident, suicide, homicide or from natural causes — is listed as undetermined pending investigation into the events leading up to it."
State Medical Examiner John Hunsaker III, who performed the autopsy, suggested an inquest be held. Yet, due to the claimed possibility that the results could be inconclusive and upon advice from legal counsel, Ginn has decided not to use county funds to order an inquest.
According to KRS 72.400 that, in part, establishes the coroner's inquest process, "The General Assembly ... recognizes that the ascertainment of the cause and manner of death in cases in which the coroner has jurisdiction is an essential governmental service."
The coroner has jurisdiction over Campbell's death under several possible sections of KRS 72.025, including when the death:
■ Appears to be caused by homicide or violence.
■ Occurs while the person is in police custody.
■ Appears to be other than natural.
■ Is sudden and unexplained.
Campbell's death occurred at his residence where he was receiving services from a Medicaid Supports for Community Living Waiver program. Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities receiving services in the community or at a facility have the right to be safe and healthy. Issues and circumstances surrounding Campbell's death are of great concern to family members and to members of the organizations requesting the coroner to hold an inquest.
If no negligence is found, the family and community can rest assured that his death was truly accidental.
If there were negligence or other improper actions involved, we must learn from it, including taking any needed corrective actions to prevent other individuals from being harmed in a similar manner in the future.
The manner of Campbell's death is extremely important for his family to know, for other families of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to know and for the public to know.
We therefore respectfully request that an inquest be ordered by the coroner.