A television news story that aired on Fox 6 on October 30, 2012, depicts a video of a man in police custody who died as the result of heart disease. Because of recent events and because the officers’ actions in this case are so clear in their attempts to help the deceased, Chief Edward A. Flynn took the unusual step of speaking about the case despite the fact it is currently the subject of litigation.
We sympathize with the family of James Perry, who died on September 13, 2010, of heart disease. His death was ruled a natural cause by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner.
We know when any police contact is depicted in video, that video may not provide the full context of events. Therefore, we are providing additional details.
James F. Perry was arrested by Milwaukee Police at 2:18 a.m. September 13, 2010 after he committed an armed robbery in the 2100 block of N. 5th St. Taken in the robbery was a Buick Riviera. Police Officers spotted the car, stopped it and arrested Mr. Perry without incident. A detective questioned Mr. Perry at 11:19 am. that same day during which time Mr. Perry was cooperative, confessed to his involvement and did not display any symptoms of distress.
While Mr. Perry was in the Milwaukee Police Prisoner Processing Section, he suffered a seizure and was conveyed to Sinai Medical Center at 3:21 p.m. Milwaukee Police Officers accompanied him. In the emergency room, Mr. Perry suffered additional seizures and was treated with medication by a physician. The officers were informed the doctor was medically releasing Mr. Perry to the officers to be returned to the jail.
Upon seeing Mr. Perry, who appeared lethargic and who was not speaking coherently, the officers expressed serious concerns to a nurse that he should not be released. They shared those concerns when they wrote their reports that night. The nurse checked again with the physician who said Mr. Perry would likely sleep for awhile and he could be released.
The officers, having brought their concerns to hospital staff, complied with the directive of the physician and took him back to the jail. At that time, Mr. Perry could not walk unassisted.
Mr. Perry was escorted to the jail and began spitting on himself. For their safety, officers placed a spit mask on Mr. Perry so as not to come into contact with his bodily fluids. He eventually was transferred to the Milwaukee County Criminal Justice Facility where CJF nurses evaluated him and instructed officers to call for an ambulance to take him back to the hospital for further medical evaluation. As the ambulance was en route to CJF, Mr. Perry suffered a fatal heart attack.
As this case is discussed in the news and in the community, it is important to recognize that the officers followed policy and did everything possible to get Mr. Perry proper treatment at the hospital. Chief Flynn discussed the case at length in the video at the top of this article. The link to the video also is here: http://youtu.be/D8TVlrpIgEU
Additionally, MPD prepared a timeline to assist the community in understanding the sequence of this incident. The timeline can be accessed here: