On September 17, 25-year-old Barrington Williams died after running from the police. Following more than a months of testing, the city’s medical examiner has ruled the cause of death as natural, the office told the Village Voice on Tuesday.
Williams succumbed to “acute and chronic bronchial asthma,” said Grace Brugess, a spokesperson for the NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. He had a severe asthma attack.
The chase began around 2:30 p.m., when NYPD officers suspected that Williams was selling MetroCard swipes at the East 161st Street B/D train subway station in the Bronx. Officers walked toward him and he took off, according to the police account.
They caught him shorty after. At some point during the arrest, however, Williams became “unconscious and unresponsive.” It’s unclear whether the asthma attack began while he was already in custody or before.
He was pronounced dead at Lincoln Hospital. The initial autopsy, performed that day, proved inconclusive, AM New York reported.
A ruling that a suspect’s cause of death was natural doesn’t necessary absolve police from scrutiny. Last month, the family of Kyam Livingston sued the department after the 37-year-old died while in a holding cell in July. The medical examiner’s office said that the cause of death was alcoholic seizure from chronic alcoholism. Police had arrested Livingston because she broke an order of protection her grandmother had taken out against her. Officers called for medical assistance several hours after Livingston began complaining of stomach pains and diarrhea. She died about 20 minutes later.