Tyrone West autopsy report completed, but results withheld

The state medical examiner's office says the autopsy report for Tyrone West, who died in police custody during a traffic stop in July, has been completed after more than four months of investigation.

But results can't be shared as the criminal investigation continues, authorities said Monday.


West, 44, died during an altercation with police after he was pulled over on July 18. His family has been protesting weekly - sometimes daily - demanding insight into how he died, and recently city councilmembers and a candidate for lieutenant governor joined their call for answers.

Mark Cheshire, a spokesman for the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office, said prosecutors had not yet received the report but that the investigation is not finished and authorities are not ready to reveal West's cause of death.


Cheshire said authorities did not want to "undermine the integrity of the investigation."

"When [the investigation is] complete, we'll share what we can at that time," Cheshire said.

Police spokesman Lt. Eric Kowalczyk echoed Cheshire's comments. "Its an active and ongoing investigation, and we need to allow that to run its course," he said.

Police have previously said West had a "medical emergency" while fighting officers, with witnesses claiming West was beaten by the officers. Nine officers were suspended amid the probe. West was on parole and police say suspected drugs were found at the scene.

Crucial for police in death investigations is a cause of death, but months passed while the medical examiner's office worked to determine how West died. Experts on autopsies say that 90 percent of cases are completed within 90 days. The medical examiner's office has declined to discuss the delay.

West's sister, Tawanda Jones, said the family had not been notified that the autopsy was complete.
"I'm just totally shocked," she said when reached by phone Monday. "I think it's disgusting. They're still not telling us nothing."

A city council hearing on the status of the case is set for Dec. 11, and Goldfarb has said that the medical examiner's office won't attend.

Police and prosecutors could not immediately be reached about the status of the case.

Investigators sometimes withhold information gleaned from an autopsy while an investigation is underway, to prevent witnesses from molding their story to fit the information. The cause of death for Phylicia Barnes, the North Carolina teen who went missing in December 2010, was withheld even after a suspect was arrested in her death.