The autopsy revealed Desir died by strangulation (Image: Getty)
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The autopsy revealed the 43-year-old Florida man was killed while being violently restrained by six jailers. The findings come after an official autopsy, conducted by the prison’s medical examiner’s office, ruled the cause of death as undetermined.
However, a private autopsy report, recently obtained by the Guardian, found that the inmate was killed during an altercation with six prison staff at the North Broward Bureau facility.
The jail is operated by the Broward county sheriff’s office (BSO) in south Florida and specifically detains inmates who have mental and physical disabilities.
Kevin Desir was arrested on January 13, 2021, for marijuana possession but four days later he became unresponsive after getting into an altercation with officers and he never regained consciousness.
On January 17, 2021, Mr Desir was handcuffed, punched repeatedly, tasered, and pepper sprayed by officers, the Guardian reports.
Mr Desir lost consciousness when the prison workers attempted to strap him into a restraint chair.
One deputy interlocked hands on Desir’s neck from behind and used “his body weight to leverage Desir back into the chair”, according to a memo from the Broward county state attorney’s office.
Mr Desir died 10 days later in hospital and an autopsy by the Broward county medical examiner’s office was launched the following day.
It said the cause of death was undetermined.
The prison’s medical examination office previously said the death was undetermined (Image: Getty)
The state attorney’s office has since announced it was declining to prosecute any of the six officers involved, declaring that Desir’s death was justifiable.
The late inmate’s grieving family has been fighting to get answers ever since.
Around the same time, Desir’s family requested a private autopsy, which found he died from “manual strangulation” and concluded that his death was a homicide after “neck and carotid arteries [were] compressed” during “law enforcement restraint attempt”.
The family’s lawyer, Jeremy McLymont, said: “The idea that two medical examiners could come up with two completely different causes of death is mind-blowing”.
It took almost 21 months for the private autopsy to be conducted as Broward county sheriff’s office reportedly refused access to several of Desir’s medical records.
Mr McLymont said: “Any time you release half of them but you keep some [documents], that’s an indication that there’s something that they’re hiding, some back-dealing going on.”
The prison authorities have also been accused of suppressing vital video evidence of the fateful day.
Broward Sheriff’s Office’s four jails have been under a consent decree since 1995, which mandates federal monitoring and better conditions in each facility.
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