Medical Examiner rules on suspect’s death
OKLAHOMA CITY — The medical examiner has released the cause of death for a metro man who died while in police custody.
The M.E. ruled that Robin Howard died from acute pneumonia due to blunt force trauma to the chest; the manner of death has been ruled homicide.
Howard’s family now said they want action taken against the officers responsible.
“We want the truth but we need justice, we need justice,” Howard’s sister, Kimberly Turner, said.
Howard’s family said the medical examiner’s ruling confirms what they suspected all along, that he died at the hands of Oklahoma City police officers.
Back on June 19, Howard led police on a brief chase before crashing his car and running from officers.
They said they had to use force to take him into custody behind a house in northeast Oklahoma City.
Officers turned away an ambulance and took him themselves to Southwest Medical Center, where he died four days later.
His family said they weren’t notified until four days after his death.
“It was like, you know, swept under the rug like nobody ever said anything about it, like it didn’t matter to them,” another one of Howard’s sisters, Marilyn Howard, said.
Howard’s family has retained attorney, David Slane.
Slane said he also has many questions about what happened when Howard was arrested.
“Why was EMSA sent away? Why was he not taken to medical treatment within a mile or two of the incident and instead goes 20 or 30 miles down the road,” Slane said.
Oklahoma Police Capt. Dexter Nelson said there are reasons he can’t get into why Howard was not transported by ambulance.
“There are statements that he made that played into that. As to why he was not transported by EMSA,” Capt. Nelson said.
Oklahoma City Police fully admit that their officers had to use force to take Howard into custody.
They say it will be up to the district attorney to determine if this was jutsifiable homicide.
“Ultimately the suspect dictates what happens in any arrest. If the suspect stops and complies with the officer’s request, the officer’s going to stop. If the suspect runs, the officer has to chase him,” Capt. Nelson said.
“We need to know who did what, how, why, when and where. We need those answers,” Slane said.
Howard’s family said pictures taken after his death show bruises that would indicate excessive force.
They want to see the officers involved charged with a crime.
“We want to know that they are not above the law because it was kind of looking like it at first, like they were above the law,” Turner said.
There were four officers present at the time of Howard’s arrest.
Police tell us the two who had hands-on involvement have been on restricted duty since the incident, meaning they come in to work but don’t deal with the public.
Police say as soon as they receive the full medical examiner’s report, they will turn over their findings to the district attorney.