Four months after 45-year-old Darrin Hanna’s death sparked public protests against the North Chicago police, the Lake County Coroner has determined that his death was caused in part by trauma inflicted by police and shocks from a Taser, an official said today.
Hanna died Nov. 13, a week after police intervened in an alleged domestic incident at his home, but authorities had never explicitly connected his death with his treatment by police.
Lake County Coroner Artis Yancey released a statement this afternoon saying that Hanna’s death resulted from a variety of complications, including “physical trauma and restraint” and Taser shocks suffered during the confrontation with officers.
Other factors included “acute and chronic cocaine abuse,” badly managed high blood pressure and insufficient kidney function, Yancey said.
Each factor contributed to multiple organ failure related to Hanna’s sickle cell disease, Yancey said.
Hanna’s mother, Gloria Carr, was upset that the coroner’s statement did not emphasize that the beating by police caused her son’s death rather than the other factors.
“I’m upset,” she said. “They’re trying to put other things before trauma. Trauma at the hands of police should have been the first thing.”
She said her son did have problems with sickle cell trait, which is not as severe as sickle cell disease, but had not been hospitalized for it for a couple of years.
She acknowledged that he used cocaine, but said he was an occasional user who was trying to clean up, not chronic. And she said her son never had kidney problems or dialysis until after the arrest.
“I hope the state’s attorney prosecutes these officers,” she said, “even though (the coroner is) trying to say it’s something else.”
Also today, the Illinois State Police delivered the results of an investigation into Hanna’s death to the Lake County state’s attorney’s office, which will determine whether anyone should be charged criminally, said Monique Bond, state police spokeswoman.
Seven officers who were involved in the incident were placed on desk duty shortly after Hanna died, and his family has called for criminal charges against those officers.
Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Waller was not immediately available for comment.
Hanna’s death sparked an outcry against over alleged abuse by the North Chicago police, and city council meetings since his death have been packed with protesters. The city faces a wave of brutality accusations and several lawsuits.
In the wake of those accusations, the Tribune conducted an inquiry that found that use-of-force incidents increased from eight in 2008 to 28 last year, according to city records.
In that time, 10 federal lawsuits were filed against the city, which paid more than $1.4 million to settle excessive force claims.
Four officers were disciplined for the use of force during that period, but none was dismissed.
Last month, interim Chief James Jackson, former second-in-command in the Chicago Police Department, ordered the unpaid suspension of a police officer for hitting a man in custody in July 2010.
The incident was caught on video and brought to light at a city council meeting in December.
Mayor Leon Rockingham Jr. placed police Chief Michael Newsome on paid leave in early January, and Newsome retired Feb. 24.
North Chicago has hired a retired state police official for its own inquiry into the Hanna incident and five other brutality claims, and the state's attorney's office would be told of any criminal conduct revealed by the investigations, city officials have said.
Before the official results were released through the coroner’s office, a private autopsy commissioned by Hanna’s family members -- who are suing the city -- determined his death was triggered by a beating, according to the family’s lawyer.
Tribune report Bob McCoppin contributed.