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Man who collapsed after struggle with KC police died from drug intoxication

Updated: 2013-09-13T05:42:43Z

By CHRISTINE VENDEL

The Kansas City Star

A man who collapsed in June after struggling with Kansas City police officers who used a stun gun on him died from accidental methamphetamine intoxication, the Jackson County medical examiner’s office has ruled.

The autopsy report, released to The Star on Thursday, also cited “excited delirium” as a significant condition in the death of Kevin L. Ellis, 45, on June 17. Excited delirium is a brain condition that causes bizarre behavior and high body temperatures in some drug users — and frequently causes sudden death from stopping of the heart.

A neuropathologist who examined Ellis’ brain found no changes “attributable to the police conductive electrical device.”

The autopsy report also noted several significant health problems for Ellis, including a mildly enlarged heart, an abnormal angle in a coronary artery and three coronary arteries that were up to 80 percent blocked by plaque.

Police encountered Ellis after a woman reported he was acting strangely in her yard in the 5300 block of North Brighton Avenue. The woman said he was crouching in her grass on all fours and acting in a suspicious manner around her car.

She got into her car to go to work, but the man opened a rear door and got inside.

The woman got out and ran to a neighbor for help. The neighbor told the man to get out of the car and later reported the man’s pupils had been dilated and he appeared “bewildered.”

Police officers arrived and pulled Ellis out of the car as Ellis continued to struggle. They pressed a stun gun against his shoulder and shocked him once.

They handcuffed him, rolled him over and noticed he was unresponsive. The officers removed the handcuffs and started cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but he later died at a hospital.

His mother, Veneta Ellis, later told The Star that her son fought mental illness and alcoholism since he was a teen. He didn’t have a car, and she thought he may have been trying to walk to her house, about a mile away from the address on North Brighton, when he got confused and got into the car.

To reach Christine Vendel, call 816-234-4438 or send email to cvendel@kcstar.com.

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