Thursday, July 12, 2001

Patient dies after scuffle




By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Police, the Campbell County coroner and NorthKey Community Care are all conducting independent investigations after a 49-year-old psychiatric patient died after a scuffle with emergency medical workers and police officers.

        Pitman Davidson's widow, who witnessed the incident, said police and fire personnel acted appropriately. Ruth Davidson declined to discuss her husband or the details of his death Tuesday.

[photo] Pitman Davidson died after a struggle Tuesday with police and medical workers in this office of NorthKey Community Care on Columbia Street in Newport.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        “I was there,” she said at their 10th Street home. “I don't like all these accusations being made against the police and fire department. They did what they had to do.”

        Preliminary results of a Wednesday morning autopsy indicate Mr. Davidson did not die of asphyxiation, according to Lt. Phil Liles, spokesman for Newport police. Mr. Davidson didn't have any bruises on his body or broken bones.

        He also didn't die of a heart attack, although Lt. Liles said Mr. Davidson's weak heart and the fact he was overweight could have contributed to the man's death.

        Campbell County Coroner Mark G. Schweitzer said it would be six to eight weeks before all results of the autopsy are completed. Mr. Schweitzer is conducting a post-mortem death investigation, which includes interviewing witnesses of the scuffle with Mr. Davidson.

        Police reports outline the events leading to the death as follows:

        Mr. Davidson checked himself out of St. Luke Hospital East in Fort Thomas on Tuesday morning because the hospital staff refused to provide him with pain medication. Mr. Davidson then had his wife drive him to a NorthKey mental health care office on Columbia Street, where he was a client.

        Mrs. Davidson told the NorthKey staff that her husband was on medication, but did not seem to be responding.

        “The therapist was not in her office, but she was contacted, and she told the staff to call 911 because he needed to be in the hospital,” said Mary Pat Beeler, public information officer for NorthKey.

        Police reports indicate a nurse practitioner who treated Mr. Davidson last week believed he was becoming psychotic, and diagnosed him as suffering from schizoid affective disorder. This is a combination of a psychosis and a mood disorder (either a major depression or manic-depressive illness).

        Police and emergency medical personnel arrived to find Mr. Davidson standing in the front office wearing a St. Luke hospital gown. Mr. Davidson said he was hallucinating and feared for his safety, but refused to go to the hospital.

        Police, who described Mr. Davidson as 6 feet, 2 inches and 350 pounds, called for reinforcements.

        A scuffle broke out after Mr. Davidson pushed and tried to hit a medic. Two officers and the remaining medical personnel intervened and got Mr. Davidson to the floor. After a struggle that lasted several minutes, Mr. Davidson was restrained — using three sets of handcuffs.

        When medical workers rolled Mr. Davidson onto his back to stand him up, they noticed that his face was blue. They immediately began trying to revive him. Mr. Davidson was taken to St. Luke East, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 1 p.m.

        Ms. Beeler said NorthKey would do its own internal investigation to make sure its staff acted appropriately. Lt. Liles said police would not close their death investigation until the coroner's report was completed.

       Ray Schaefer and Cindy Schroeder contributed to this report.
       

       



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