DA closes probe into inmate’s death; family protests

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania prosecutor has closed a criminal investigation into the death of a 21-year-old prison inmate following a coroner’s conclusion that the death was due to natural causes, even as the inmate’s relatives call for an independent probe.

Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo said Friday he was closing the criminal investigation “as there is no evidence of criminal conduct on the part of any persons at the prison in connection with the death of Ty’rique Riley.”

“We continue to express our condolences to the entire Riley family for the loss they have suffered,” he said.

Authorities have said that Ty’rique Riley, jailed after an altercation with his father, struggled with guards at Dauphin County Prison and became unresponsive after he was placed in a restraint chair, a device used to immobilize inmates at risk of hurting themselves or others. He was taken to a hospital June 26 and died there July 1.

The county coroner said Thursday that Riley had swelling in his brain and blood vessels, clots in his lungs and a failing kidney, ailments that likely progressed over days or weeks. Coroner Graham Hetrick said the cause of the fatal inflammation remains unknown, but that it could have been a virus, cocaine or both, adding that cocaine was found in Riley’s system. He said bruises found on his body had nothing to do with his death, and “we did not see any trauma on his body that would have caused him to die.”

Chardo’s announcement included photos he said were intended to counter erroneous reports that Riley had missing teeth, broken ribs and a footprint on his back. He said surveillance video shows no unlawful use of force.

“From the time of his arrest for aggravated assault until he required hospitalization, Mr. Riley displayed conduct that would have easily been mistaken for a mental health problem,” Chardo said. “In fact, based upon the autopsy results, his conduct was the result of a medical condition that preceded his commitment to the Dauphin County Prison.”