Family of man who died in police custody at odds with DA


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A 21-year-old Harrisburg man who died in custody went into medical distress as prison staff was preparing to transfer him to a hospital, the district attorney said Friday.

That man’s family, though, disagrees with that description of what happened – and is upset the DA is speaking out before proper reports and autopsy details are released.

Dauphin County District Attorney said Ty’rique Riley 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.

“The medical pros decided he had to be seen by prison medical and then ultimately decided that they had to take him to the hospital, and it was during that process he went into medical distress and the ambulance was called and he was taken to the hospital,” Chardo said.

“That makes no sense, you don’t put me in a chair and I’m unresponsive, and I’m on life support after you put me in a chair,” said Riley’s relative, Dave Nelson.

The family says they only found out that Riley had a medical incident and was taken to the hospital – and was on life support – on June 27, one day after he arrived at the hospital and nine days after he was arrested.

The incident remains under investigation. Chardo says looking at prison video, the struggle doesn’t appear to have been violent.

“This is only preliminary. This is not the final word on this, but because there were a lot of rumors going around, this is just sort of an update,” he said. “I’m not going to reach any conclusion until I’ve got all the information.”

The family wants the full toxicology and autopsy reports to be released before anyone makes judgments about what might have happened to Riley.

A peaceful protest is planned for Saturday at 10 a.m. in front of the Dauphin County Prison.

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