Sudden Death During
Arrest and Phencyclidine

Pestaner JP, Southall PE: Sudden death during arrest and phencyclidine intoxication.
Am J Forensic Med Pathol June, 2003;24: 119-122.

I've posted this American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology
article in PDF file format.

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Sudden Death During Arrest and Phencyclidine Intoxication


Both these cases are WELL-PRESENTED, and contain incredibly strong (even "conclusive" and "irrefutable") evidence that forceful-prone-restraint was the CLEAR "cause of death" in each case. And, from comments within their ABSTRACT and DISCUSSION, the authors appear to clearly recognize this fact!:

"In this article, we review the deaths of 2 individuals in which phencyclidine intoxication was a factor that contributed to death during arrest. Most cases of sudden death during arrest have involved cocaine intoxication; because phencyclidine's pharmacologic properties are quite different from those of cocaine, these cases allow for comparisons to those factors that may have greater importance. ... phencyclidine's pharmacologic properties do not frequently cause significant neurologic or cardiorespiratory changes that may lead to sudden unexpected death during arrest. ... the prone [restrained] position is a common denominator in both cases ... Both cases have [autopsy] findings consistent with [restraint] asphyxia ..."

But, ultimately, these authors WIMPED-OUT.

"Broad conclusions based on this small sample of cases cannot be made, but the review does reinforce the recurring factors that play a role in sudden death during arrest."

NOTHING – other than the fear of "taking a stand" – prevented these obviously-knowledgeable authors from discussing THEIR OWN comparison of these two case studies with all the other restraint asphyxia death case studies published, or from discussing THEIR OWN comparison of these two case studies with the restraint-asphyxia-related "scientific study" findings that have been published. NOTHING – other than the fear of "taking a stand" – prevented these authors from offering a CONCLUSION strong enough to help to make a difference and save some lives.

After all, the authors accurately reported that

"In these 2 cases, the trauma was minor and the drug levels were not markedly elevated. Further, the circumstances of both cases suggest that mental and physical stress were factors. In addition, the prone position is a common denominator in both cases. Despite studies demonstrating no significant physiologic effects of the prone restrained position, no studies have taken into account the significance of another person placing compressive force either through pinning the extremities to the ground or directly placing weight on the back."

Furthermore, the authors accurately (though weakly) reported that ALL the studies routinely-cited as providing "scientific evidence" of forceful-prone-restraint application being a "neutral" (aka "non-threatening") event "had their own limitations, and such laboratory testing is not necessarily applicable to individual cases. Recognition of the limitations of laboratory experiments as applied to cases of sudden unexpected death is important in seeking appropriate conclusions because such cases have multiple factors that play a part in causing sudden death."

Yet, in the end – in their CONCLUSION – these authors WIMPED-OUT. In fact, in their CONCLUSION, the authors failed to even MENTION forceful-prone-restraint application being the ONE and ONLY "COMMON DENOMINATOR" in ALL instances of "Sudden Death During Arrest" that did not involve the concomitant occurrence of lethal TRAUMA.

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