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Officers cleared in death of man who died in custody

Posted: 2:51 PM, Feb 08, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-11 11:37:46-05
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The Fond du Lac County District Attorney's Office is releasing its finding on the death of Christopher L. Cary, who died in police custody last December.

Fond du Lac District Attorney Eric Toney stated during a news conference Friday that Cary had ingested cocaine during a traffic stop, presumably to prevent police officers from finding the drugs. The D.A. says Cary's death was drug-related, calling it "Acute Cocaine Toxicity".

The officers involved were cleared of any wrongdoing.

The City of Fond du Lac Police Department said officers stopped the 37-year-old Fond du Lac man on the night of December 23, 2018. They said a Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Department K-9 unit was also called to the scene to help.

Police said Christopher Cary was currently out on bail for a previous incident and had violated the conditions of his bond. He was taken into custody.

They said Cary was in the backseat of the police squad car when he started showing signs of medical distress. Police said an ambulance transported him to the hospital for treatment where he was later pronounced dead.

The names of the Fond du Lac Police Officers involved were released to the public earlier: Officer Sandra O’Donnell; Officer Brandon Meudt and Officer Trenton Smith. Police say they were placed on administrative assignment immediately following the incident. However, police say they have since been returned to regular duty status as of January 10.

The attorney for Cary's family has released this statement on their behalf:

Response from Jarrett Adams, Attorney for the Family of Christopher L. Cary, to District Attorney Toney’s Findings Regarding Cary’s In-Custody Death

“On December 23, 2018, Christopher Cary died during what should have been a routine traffic stop. Christopher did not die by his own hand, as District Attorney Toney would have you believe. Christopher died because he was illegally searched and detained for over an hour, and not provided urgent medical care. He never should have been in that situation in the first place, and he certainly should not have died because of it.

The official cause of Christopher’s death may have been ‘acute cocaine toxicity.’ But this does not excuse the fact that the Fond du Lac Police Department did not take seriously Christopher’s medical condition and failed to provide him the urgent medical care that he needed.

Christopher was entitled to Due Process of the Law, as every American is; instead, he was tried and convicted in the back seat of a police car. This sends a chilling message to all Fond du Lac residents that the police can arbitrarily stop you, detain you, and control whether you live or die.

Christopher leaves behind a loving family and three daughters, all of whom are grieving and deeply disturbed by the fact that his death could have been prevented. Christopher’s family intends to file a federal lawsuit to hold accountable those who caused Christopher’s untimely death."