State Police are continuing to investigate the May 10 death of a Baldwin man, who died after police used a stun gun to restrain him after he escaped from custody.
The St. Mary Parish Coroner’s Office ruled last week that Damon Abraham, 33, died from excited delirium.
In a news release, the Coroner’s Office said the circumstances of Abraham’s death involved cocaine intoxication. The Coroner’s Office listed Abraham’s death as accidental.
Coroner F.H. Metz Jr. was not available for comment Tuesday.
The University of Miami’s Brain Program defines excited delirium as a brain disorder that is usually drug-related, although it can occur in nondrug users.
Excited delirium occurs with a sudden onset, with symptoms of bizarre and/or aggressive behavior, shouting, paranoia, panic, violence toward others, unexpected physical strength, and hyperthermia, a harbinger of death in these cases, according to the program’s website, exciteddelirium.org.
Not everyone who abuses cocaine is at risk of excited delirium, but a certain percentage of users are, according to Deborah Mash, a professor of neurology at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine and the director of the university’s Brain Program.
Researchers also have not seen an uptick in excited delirium deaths since police first started using stun guns, Mash said, adding deaths involving excited deliriums sometimes occur when no restraint or force is used.
Cases involving excited delirium usually end in fatalities, Mash said.
Baldwin Police Chief Gerald Minor asked State Police to investigate Abraham’s death.
State Police have said the incident began sometime after midnight after Abraham was taken into custody at Baldwin Police Department headquarters on outstanding warrants.
Abraham escaped while in custody, prompting an officer to use a Taser stun gun to restrain him, State Police have said.
Taser stun guns are widely used by law enforcement authorities. The gun fires prongs that deliver an electrical charge, immobilizing the person.
Officers called an ambulance after they realized Abraham needed medical attention.
He was later pronounced dead after being transferred from the Franklin Foundation Hospital to Lafayette General Medical Center.
A State Police spokesman, Trooper Stephen Hammons, said the Coroner’s Office report will be used in the agency’s investigation. He said there is no timeline on when the investigation will be complete.
“We want to make sure we do a thorough investigation no matter how long it takes,” Hammons said.