Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

DA Says Ware Died of Drug Toxicity

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

DA Says Ware Died of Drug Toxicity

Article excerpt

The man who was pepper sprayed before dying in police custody last month had consumed cocaine, methamphetamine and alcohol, authorities said Wednesday.

Results from Anthony Ware's autopsy indicated that he died as a result of drug toxicity, said Tuscaloosa County District Attorney Lyn Head.

Ware, 35, fled into the woods behind Crescent East Apartments in Holt when Tuscaloosa police officers arrived to serve an outstanding warrant the night of July 10.

He died after officers used pepper spray to subdue him. The autopsy also revealed that Ware suffered from an enlarged heart and thyroid, which was deadly combined with the drugs and exertion from the pursuit, Head said.

Head spoke with the state's chief medical examiner for the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, who said the toxicity of the drugs was amplified by Ware's hear and thyroid conditions, she said.

"With running, that could have increased the need for his heart to react and respond," she said. "And these drugs prevented his heart from doing its job."

Medical examiners believe that Ware likely consumed the drugs within 12 hours of his death, and no more than 24 hours, based on blood work and the presence of cocaine metabolites, Head said.

Nothing indicated that Ware suffered from asthma.

Ware also had a number of minor and superficial injuries to his arm and a small bruise on his back that the examiner believed resulted from the pursuit, which ended in a heavily wooded, sloped area behind the apartment complex.

The autopsy was conducted in Montgomery the Monday following Ware's death, which was on a Friday night. The investigation was expedited, said Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit commander Capt. Gary Hood.

"They did a more in-depth autopsy than usual," he said. "We tried to get it expedited so the family and the community would know the cause of death."

The results will be part of the evidence presented to a grand jury that will decide whether any officer wrongdoing occurred. It will also be reviewed by agents with the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice who are reviewing the case at TPD's request.

The 18-member grand jury will examine witness statements, officer statements, video and autopsy results and other evidence within the next few weeks. …

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