Back in December we reported that a Granite City man who'd been arrested by police and taken to Gateway Regional Medical Center may have died from a cause forensically labeled "excited delirium," which usually occurs after significant physical exertion associated with violent and/or bizarre behavior that prompts restraint by the police.
The Madison County Coroner's Office originally reported that "excited delirium" may have caused the death of Anthony T. Burkey of Granite City, who passed away on December 2. That morning, Burkey appeared to be hallucinating while banging on the door of a neighbor's residence. Madison County investigators took him to the Gateway emergency room, where he was given sedatives. Later that afternoon he started fighting with security officers and suddenly collapsed and died.
As we predicted, and as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported last week, more details were sure to come out.
A Madison County coroner's jury ruled the death a result of "compressive asphyxiation," from being held face-down on the floor by three security guards. That means that something compressing Burkey's torso limited the expansion of his lungs, causing him to suffocate. The coroner's jury ruled the death an accident.
According to the Post-Dispatch report, the hospital security guards wrestled him to the floor when Burkey made a move that appeared to be combative, then held him on a mat on the floor for about four minutes until he quit resisting. The guards apparently thought the meds had kicked in, when, in fact, he was dead.
In the coroner's original report, suffocation was listed as a possible cause of death, in addition to excited delirium, pending a toxicology report. Toxicology tests reportedly detected recent marijuana use, a prescription antidepressant and the drugs that were administered in the hospital. Madison County prosecutors will review the death.