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Death still remains mystery - Hibbing Daily Tribune: News

Death still remains mystery

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Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2002 12:00 am

HIBBING — Three months to the day later, the death of Lionel Antoine Lewis while in the custody of Hibbing Police officers remains a mystery.

“We are waiting the final autopsy reports,” said Virginia Police Chief Dana Waldron Monday. Waldron’s department spearheaded the investigation.

Hibbing Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Uncini confirmed Monday he is still waiting for a report from another consultant. Initial autopsy and toxicology were sent to outside consultants to get a second opinion.

Lewis, 26, died Sunday, July 14 at the Virginia hospital a few hours after being arrested by the officers for allegedly assaulting girlfriend Lynette Traver at Day Lake. An out-of-control Lewis was sprayed with two cans of mace and hog tied before put in the squad car used to transport him to the Virginia jail.

Radio and phone transcripts released by Virginia investigators last week to KSTP TV Channel 5 in the Twin Cities reveal more about Lewis’s last minutes and the officers’ conduct.

Three Hibbing officers were involved in the incident. Officers Kris Halvorson, Mike Douville and Brent Everett were put on administrative leave but returned to work shortly after initial investigation.

Lewis was unresponsive in the back of the squad car upon arrival at the St. Louis County jail in Virginia. Hibbing officers administered CPR before paramedics arrived and brought Lewis to Virginia Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Waldron told The Daily Tribune a week after the incident he found no wrong-doing on behalf of the Hibbing officers.

A preliminary autopsy did not determine a cause of death.

Uncini said he requested another forensic pathologist reexamine the records and look at tissues for a second opinion.

He is still awaiting that opinion but hopes to have it within the week.

Uncini also stated he sought and has received additional consultations from a cardiologist pathologist relative to the conditions of Lewis’s heart and lungs. He received another toxicology report Monday, he said.

It will be up to Uncini to review the expert opinions, compare the opinions with the investigation findings and submit a final report.

“Forensic reporting is never just about the medical reports,” Uncini added. “It includes the whole situation.”

The family has remained quiet while awaiting the conclusion of the investigation. Angela Lewis, Lionel’s sister’s, told KSTP last week, “I believe justice will be served because I’m not going to stop praying, trusting in God, until they (the officers) get what they deserve,”

Hibbing Police Chief John Maras was not available for comment Monday.

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