NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A family from Queens is looking for answers after a beloved Army veteran mysteriously died in police custody.
CBS2’s Ali Bauman spoke with the vet’s mother Tuesday in Queens Village.
“We’re just heartbroken, completely heartbroken,” Rose Palmer said.
That was the pain of a mother who had to bury her own son and, 14 months later, still doesn’t know why.
“I feel like if they were gonna be honest with us by now we should know something,” Palmer added.
Army veteran Everett Palmer Jr. was born and raised in Queens. The 41-year-old went to Pennsylvania in April of 2018 to resolve an outstanding DUI warrant from two years prior. He was booked and put in a single cell at York County Prison. Days later, he was dead.
“The information we are receiving in piecemeal-style tells us Everett Palmer was tased, Everett Palmer was restrained, and it tells us there were outside factors… other persons involved in causing his death,” attorney Lee Merritt said.
According to autopsy results, released by the county coroner, Palmer’s manner of death is still undetermined. His family says they’ve consistently asked the local authorities for updates for over a year without much progress.
On top of that, Palmer’s family says his brain, heart, and throat were removed and never returned as part of the investigation. The coroner claimed that is normal procedure.
“There was no pre or post-notification. They were removing organs from my brother’s body,” Dwayne Palmer said.
“When someone dies in police custody, the state has a responsibility to provide as much clarity and transparency as humanly possible to the family,” Merritt added.
The coroner’s report breeds even more confusion – stating that officers had to restrain Palmer from hitting his head against his cell door. It then cited his cause of death as complications from “an excited state” with “methamphetamine toxicity” during “physical restraint.”
“They just threw drugs into that report,” the attorney claimed.
“If their conclusion of methamphetamines played a role in his death is reliable at all we need to know how he got a hold of the methamphetamines. He was in a cell by himself, not general population,” Merritt explained.
“It’s just not fair… Why did that happen? Why is my son dead when he walked in there voluntarily. Why is he dead?” Rose Palmer said.
The family also wants to know why investigators haven’t reviewed any surveillance video from inside the prison.
Pennsylvania State Police and the York County District Attorney’s Office are both investigating.