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Man's death triggered by North Chicago police beating, private autopsy finds

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A private autopsy has found that a North Chicago man died from multiple causes that were triggered by a beating, allegedly at the hands of North Chicago police officers, his family’s attorney said today.

“The pathologist said he’d still be alive if he wasn’t beaten that day,” attorney Muriel Collison said. “This was the triggering event.”

The autopsy was commissioned by the family of Darrin Hanna, 45, of North Chicago, who died Nov. 13 of last year. The results of the official autopsy by the Lake County coroner’s office have not yet been released.

Seven North Chicago officers have been placed on desk duty and the police chief has been placed on leave while the state police investigates the circumstances surrounding Hanna’s death.

His family has filed a federal lawsuit against North Chicago and six officers who allegedly took part in Hanna’s arrest following a domestic battery complaint at his home.

The private autopsy found that the immediate cause of Hanna’s death was sickle cell crisis with acute chest syndrome and multi-system organ failure, but the “main disease” that brought on the fatality was multiple blunt trauma, hypertensive and arteriosclerotic heart disease, and sickle cell disease.

Hanna suffered multiple bruises on both upper arms, his right hands, both sides, right calf, and both his eye sockets. He also had internal bleeding in his chest, and acute bleeding in his spleen, the private autopsy determined.

He also suffered acute respiratory distress requiring a ventilator, and acute kidney failure requiring dialysis following the incident Nov. 6.

He also had a history of illegal drug use, along with a long criminal record, court records show, and tested positive for cocaine and marijuana upon admission to the hospital, the autopsy found.

The investigation into the death was performed primarily by Dr. Michael Kaufman, a pathologist with NorthShore University HealthSystem.

Hanna’s death touched off turmoil in the far northern suburb as others came forward to claim they had been beaten by police.

Use-of-force incidents by police increased from eight in 2008 to 28 last year, according to city records.

At least 10 federal lawsuits were filed against the city, which paid more than $1.4 million for excessive force claims.

In that time, only four officers were disciplined for the use of force, and none had been dismissed.

Amid calls for change in the police department, Mayor Leon Rockingham Jr. placed police Chief Mike Newsome on paid leave in January, and installed as interim chief James Jackson, the former second-in-command in the Chicago Police Department.

The mayor and chief could not be reached immediately for comment about the private Hanna autopsy.

Tribune reporter Dan Hinkel contributed.

rmccoppin@tribune.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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