Coroner's report doctored to exculpate sheriff
- The following article, attributed to Arizona Republic reporter Christina
Leonard, appeared on page B10 of the Saturday, August 30, 2003 edition of
The Arizona Republic. Looks like Sheriff Arpaio has a friend in the
Medical Examiner's Office.
NEW REPORT: 2001 DEATH NOT LINKED TO JAIL CHAIR
The Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office has amended its autopsy report
on a man who died after being strapped into a jailhouse restraint chair,
saying positional asphyxia was not responsible for his death.
Charles Agster, 33, of Phoenix, died three days after being buckled into a
restraint chair at Maricopa County's Madison Street Jail in Phoenix in
"We said from the beginning we did nothing wrong," Sheriff Joe Arpaio said
Friday. "You have to go by the facts and not what the defense attorneys say
The original autopsy report listed positional asphyxiation and drugs as the
cause of death. But the amended version, released almost two years after the
original, says Agster's methamphetamine level was sufficient to produce a
"The reported behavior of the decedent is not that of a rational individual
and bolsters the conclusion that he was delirious," the report states.
Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Philip Keen wrote that further review, which
included a jail video, led to the reversal. The report lists Agster's death
Agster's mother filed a suit against the Sheriff's Office over the death,
claiming that jail medical staff and deputies knew he was in distress but did
not call 911 until 11 minutes after he stopped breathing.
The case is ongoing.