Mother wants answers in autistic son's death while in police custody

A mother has asked Lexington police and medical providers for details surrounding her autistic son's death after officers tried to handcuff him at a group home for mentally disabled people Sunday.

Roland Campbell, 21, was pronounced dead at St. Joseph Hospital at 4:33 p.m., according to a coroner's report. A cause of death had not been determined Monday, but preliminary autopsy results ruled out physical trauma and disease, Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn said. Ginn said Campbell had superficial lacerations on his hand.

Police received a call about 3:30 p.m. Sunday regarding "a mentally challenged subject that was out of control" at a home on Waco Road, police Cmdr. Ron Compton said.

At a Monday news conference, Compton said all Lexington officers are trained to respond to people with mental disabilities. He said that he didn't think the two responding officers had violated procedure but that an investigation was ongoing.

Roland Campbell's brothers, Roman Campbell, 21, and Ceasar Cook, 29, said they had been told that their brother had become enraged, turning over tables and breaking items inside the home.

Officers initially handcuffed Roland Campbell without incident, intending to take him into emergency detention. Compton said physical evidence at the scene and witnesses' statements indicated that Campbell was "a danger to himself and others."

Compton said that Campbell became violent and escaped his restraints, and that when officers were cuffing him a second time, he lost consciousness. The officers performed CPR until emergency medical personnel arrived.

Roman Campbell questioned whether police used too much force when restraining his brother, who he said was severely autistic and could not speak.

"He's confused. When they come in jumping on him like that, he's not thinking like we would be thinking, like, 'Oh, we got to calm down, the police are here,'" Roman Campbell said.

Pecola Campbell said that her son had lived with two other disabled men and a caretaker at the home since September and that he was normally "sweet and happy." She said Roland Campbell would not have acted violently unless he had been provoked or felt threatened.

Roland Campbell took several medications that affected his mood, she said. Roman Campbell said his brother might have acted violently if he had been given the wrong medication.

A statement released by Linda Hill, owner of Adult Daycare of Lexington Inc., said "the death was not the result of any action or inaction" of the ADC staff.

ADC, which runs the Waco Road home, contracts with the state Medicaid program to provide services under the Supports for Community Living program. The program allows people with intellectual or developmental disabilities to receive care in a homelike setting, rather than an institution.

Pecola Campbell said Roland Campbell liked listening to music and was fascinated by flashing lights on police cars. She said when he was agitated he was easily calmed by the feel of cotton fabric.

"Even though he couldn't speak, he was still the nicest person you could meet," said Roman Campbell.

Pecola Campbell said she would find out what happened to her son no matter what it took.

"I have nothing to lose now," she said.

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