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Report: Overdose Cause of Death in SEPTA Taser Incident

The Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office has found that a drug overdose was the cause of death of a man who died after being stunned with a Taser by SEPTA Police at Huntingdon Station in Kensington.

According to a report on Philly.com, a spokesperson for the Medical Examiner told the paper that Omar Lopez, who died last October, had suffered a PCP overdose and that the death was ruled accidental.

The autopsy ruling clears the way for the release of an internal investigation into the incident. SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel recently told Spirit News that “shortly after the Medical Examiner issues their findings, I will issue a report on the Internal Affairs investigation.”

Diagnosing deaths following Taser use is controversial. University of Miami neurologist Deborah Nash recently told Spirit News that substance abuse and mental health issues are often the cause of death following the use of a Taser.

Others are skeptical of this claim, however. Eric Balaban of the American Civil Liberties Union told the Washington Post that an excessive focus on drug and mental health in these cases is a way to “whitewash” use of excessive force by police.

Nestel told Philly.com he will comment on the case after meeting with Lopez’s family next week. Stay tuned to Spirit News for updates as this story progresses.

SEPTA PD’s use of force policy is available for you to read here.

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