DA closes investigation of man’s death in custody

Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo announced Friday that his office is closing an investigation into the death of Ty’rique Riley.

Chardo said he closed the case after reviewing autopsy results that showed Riley died of natural causes, specifically vasculitis to the brain consistent with cocaine use or infection.

Coroner Graham Hetrick, in announcing the autopsy results Thursday, said the brain infection may have altered Riley’s behavior.

“From the time of his arrest for aggravated assault until he required hospitalization, Mr. Riley displayed conduct that would have easily been mistaken for a mental health problem,” Chardo said in a statement Friday. “In fact, based on the autopsy results, his conduct was the result of a medical condition that preceded his commitment to Dauphin County Prison.”

Chardo said the investigation also included an examination of video surveillance of Reily’s interactions with police and prison staff. He said the video showed no unlawful use of force on Riley.

The district attorney said photographs taken at the hospital and autopsy refute allegations that Riley had broken teeth, a broken rib protruding from his body, and a footprint on his back as a result of a beating at the prison.

Additionally, the 911 call that triggered Riley’s arrest shows his symptoms existed several days before he was jailed, Chardo said. 

Riley, 21, was arrested June 18 for assaulting his father with a sledgehammer. Because Riley was combative and seemed to have a mental health issue, he was placed on suicide watch.

About a week later, on June 26, it was determined Riley needed to be evaluated at an outside hospital. When prison staff tried to get him out of his clothes, he became combative and was put into a restraint chair, then became unresponsive, Chardo said.

Riley died at a hospital July 1.

“As there is no evidence of criminal conduct on the part of any persons at the prison in connection with the death of Ty’rique Riley, I am closing the criminal investigation of this matter,” Chardo said in the statement. “We continue to express our condolences to the entire Riley family for the loss they have suffered.”

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