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It is fairly common for The Reader to receive story suggestions. Recently we were asked to look into a very unusual case by a man who had been tazed and arrested by the Duluth Police Department on March 5, 2013. The incident involves a man who was allegedly on synthetic drugs and spreading feces all over himself on Mesaba Avenue. The man is Cedric Anderson and he claims that many details regarding the incident are untrue and he asked us to investigate.
The Reader will highlight the Duluth Police Department’s story, Anderson’s side of the story and what happened to him after the incident. We will also introduce testimony from an outside witness, our research, our observations of Duluth Police squad car camera footage and other observations of the chaotic events that took place near Mesaba Avenue at approximately 1 a.m. on the morning of March 5. The following report is extremely graphic.
What Happened According to the Duluth Police Department
On March 5, 2013 at approximately 1:03 a.m. Duluth Police Sgt. Gayle Holton responded to reports of a possible fight. Those who called in reported bumping noises coming from an apartment and a man calling out for help. Holton made his way to West Seventh Street and Mesaba and discovered a man, later identified as Cedric Anderson, lying completely naked in the middle of the street. There was a “medium” snowfall with about two inches of snow on the ground and it was around 20 degrees.
According to Holton, Anderson, covered in a “brown substance” got up and proceeded to run up to Holton’s squad “with his right hand in his rectum...screaming for help.” Holton remained in his car as Anderson started banging on his driver’s side window. Officer June Sackette then arrived at the scene, and Anderson started running away according to Holton.
According to Sackette, Anderson ran over to her squad car and “threw himself up against it”. She exited her vehicle to try to get Anderson into the rear seat while the whole time he was screaming and reaching at his buttocks area. Anderson managed to get away and ran across Mesaba to Seventh Street. Sackette moved her squad around and again tried to get Anderson into the squad with Holton assisting until more back up arrived. “The male sat down on the back seat but then slid down onto the ground The male was all wet from rolling around in the snow and had feces on him from putting his hand up his buttocks,” noted Sackette in her report. Anderson yet again evaded the officers and continued to run around the slick streets, falling and slipping from time to time. Anderson also apparently tried to get into a fire truck which had arrived on the scene. (Officer Sackette is the only officer to make note of the fire truck in her report)
Officer Josephson arrived at the scene at approximately 1:10 a.m. and saw Holton and Sackette trying to put Anderson in the back of Sackette’s squad car. Josephson reported that Anderson then ran up to her squad car and pressed his body against her driver’s side door and that she (Josephson) could not exit her squad car. Note that this is the third police officer to report being trapped in their car by Anderson pressing against their respective doors.
When Officer Graves arrived on the scene he noted that Anderson was naked and “was putting his right fist up into his rectum and pulling out feces from his rectum.” Officer Graves blocked uphill bound traffic on Mesaba with his squad car to prevent Anderson from being struck by traffic. At this point Graves planned on using his taser on Anderson but was advised by Sgt. Holton to not use the taser while he was running. According to Graves, Anderson slipped onto his rear and this provided Graves the opportunity to shoot him with his taser in the back. “The male fell backwards and rolled to his right after approximately three seconds. In my experience this is the actions of someone that has been tased before and knows how to break the taser probes. The right taser probe was broken immediately as he rolled to his right and the taser did not have any effect after that. I continued to hold onto the trigger for approximately 15 seconds while I grabbed on to the male in an attempt to control him. I turned the taser off, removed the cartridge and put the taser back into my holster,” stated Graves in his report. Officer Sackette states, “The male slipped and fell down on the ground and Officer Graves tazed the male. The male was sitting on the ground and was tensing up and was trying to fight through being tazed. We were able to roll the male onto his stomach and he was eventually handcuffed.”
Sgt. Holton was then able to put handcuffs on Anderson who seemed to be “exhibiting extreme strength.” Officers Josephson and Graves attributed Anderson’s condition to be “excited delirium.” At this point a Gold Cross ambulance arrived and Officer Olejnicak, who has training in “excited delirium”, rode with Anderson to St. Luke’s Hospital in order to try to calm him down.
After Anderson departed, Holton and Josephson went to Anderson’s nearby residence, where no one was home. They did observe a man walking away from the residence and Sackette questioned him. (The Reader is withholding the man’s name as he was not directly involved in the incident) The man indicated that “he believed Anderson had used bath salts and synthetic marijuana” that were purchased from the “head shop downtown.” The man said that he was homeless and had been staying at Anderson’s apartment and left when Anderson became out of control and it “just got too weird.” The man stated that he believed that Anderson had “1.5 ounces of synthetic marijuana.” Anderson’s pants were located on 7th Street near the back entrance of his house which was on the 100 block of Cascade Street.
Once at the hospital the police reports noted that “there were multiple security guards, a police officer, nurse and doctors attempting to hold Anderson down despite the fact that he was in restraints. Anderson was continuing to try to flex, trying to get up and was yelling the entire time. Eventually the doctors intubated him.” Doctors ran X-rays on Anderson and recovered a wrapper for Riptide bath salts and six $100 bills from his rectum once he was sedated.
The next day plain clothes Investigator Williams called Anderson’s girlfriend, Laura Anne Condon. Condon was coincidentally also at St. Luke’s Hospital, in the Intensive Care Unit due to an apparent overdose of Tylenol. According to Investigator Williams report, the nurse supervisor, “stated I could talk with Condon, but at times she (Condon) was confused and had angry outbursts.” “Condon said there were times when she and Cedric Anderson both have used bath salts. At that time I asked her what type of bath salts they typically used and she said usually they would use Tide, referring to Riptide pipe cleaner. That was the same substance that was located in Anderson’s rectum by the ER doctors...Condon told me they get it at the Last Place on Earth.”
What Happened According to Cedric Anderson
The Reader interviewed Anderson at the St. Louis County Jail on two occasions as well as several phone interviews. He is being held on an unrelated charge. Anderson is Native American, 5’8” and has an average build. His demeanor was bright, friendly and besides perhaps being eager to show us the records which he has obviously poured over for hours, he didn’t appear to be particularly an unusual or threatening person. He was brought in by a guard, in chainless style handcuffs; and another guard carried in a stack of records which was approximately eight inches thick. Anderson’s letters and notes reveal impeccable handwriting which is almost exclusively in cursive. We talked to him via a telephone facing each other through reinforced glass.
Anderson claimed to not remember many details leading up to his encounter with the Duluth Police Department that morning. He mentioned that he had recently downloaded an app on his Iphone and recalled that the police were coming for him. When the police arrived, he went outside to talk to them and apparently this led to an incident where the officers present began to use their tasers on him. At some point he stated that he was attempting to cooperate and was even on the ground for them, but according to Anderson, “they kept shooting me with the tasers.” Anderson claims that he removed his pants to take out the taser darts which were stuck in his leg. At this point he got up and started running away from the officers, naked and yelling for help because he was in fear for his safety and life. He adamantly denies being covered in feces at any point. There is no mention of feces in any of the hospital reports, although it is in and of itself, not exactly a medical condition.
Anderson ran into the street and recalls that he had approached a squad car with its rear door open and that officers were trying to get him into it. “Something told me if I got in that car, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Anderson. Anderson denies ever getting into the car. “What if I was a mass murderer? They’re going to say that they’re going to put someone in the back of their car with no handcuffs and just let them jump out and run away at them?” noted Anderson.
He claims he continued to struggle with the officers and stated that they were “trying to get that shit up my ass.” According to Anderson, the reason he had his hand by his buttocks area was to try to shield officer’s attempts at inserting a package of synthetic drugs and money into his rectum. He stated that he had his back to one of the cars at one point while officers were trying to subdue him but kept a hand at his buttocks.
He claims that tasers were still being used and eventually he was taken to the ground with several officers on him. Anderson seemed to have very little memory of what happened after he was placed in handcuffs.
Once in the ambulance, reports show that at one moment he is alive and at 1:16 a.m., has no respiration, no blood pressure, no pulse and is not responsive. Essentially, Anderson is clinically dead within 15 minutes of the initial police response. “On the police report it says that one cop rode in the ambulance and in the ambulance report it says two cops rode in the ambulance. There’s just so many inconsistencies with everything that is going on here. If the truth was told, everything would add up and be consistent,” noted Anderson on the ambulance ride that he has little or no memory of.
The reason for Anderson’s respiratory arrest was attributed to kidney failure caused by rhabdomyolysis, which according to webmd.com, “results from a breakdown of muscle fibers and release of their contents into the bloodstream. This can lead to complications such as kidney (renal) failure. This occurs when the kidneys cannot remove waste and concentrated urine. In rare cases, rhabdomyolysis can even cause death.” (More detail on possible causes of Anderson’s rhabdomyolysis follow).
According to hospital records, he was admitted to St. Luke’s at 4:01 a.m. and brought in by the police. According to another hospital record, a time of admittance was changed from 3:35 a.m. to 1:35 a.m. It states that he was intubated, sedated and in restraints. It also states that his pupils were small and he is minimally reactive. This contradicts other hospitalreports that Anderson was combative for many hours.
According to a St. Luke’s consultation report, Anderson was resuscitated once he was in the Emergency Room. Other hospital reports contradict this stating that he was brought in an “agitated delirium” and “he was intubated (ventilation) and treated with propofol,” a sedative and anesthetic. Despite being treated with the propofol and other sedatives such as dexmedetomidine, hospital reports show that Anderson was still combative. Anderson was also given a number of doses of midazolam which is used for sedation and amnesia before medical procedures. Oddly,the hospital reports include notations that by 12:20 p.m. that day, Anderson is finally sedated and unresponsive, yet still described as combative. One report states that Anderson was in four point restraints and also in handcuffs. Hospital reports also indicate that Anderson was brought in by the police and that “it took nearly four officers to get him into the back seat of the car,” according to St. Luke’s even though police and ambulance reports indicate that he was transported by ambulance . Police and hospital reports also shift back and forth between the wrapper being for “synthetic marijuana” or “bath salts.”
Throughout the next day, Anderson is given repeated dosages of both propofol and dexmedetomidine and according to reports, continued to be agitated and is still on a ventilator and restrained.
as of noon on March 6. According to hospital reports, Anderson was moved to the Intensive Care Unit at 2 p.m. and was noted to still be agitated and was further given Haloperidol, an anti-psychotic, as well as lorazepam, an anti-anxiety drug while still receiving the sedatives regularly. “They gave me so much drugs at the hospital, as I’ve shown you. Over $16,000 worth of one sedative. And you expect me or anyone else to expect me to have a total recollection of what happened? The hospital knew exactly what they were doing. I was in the hospital for three days in a black out and snapped out of it and said, ‘what happened?’” According to hospital reports, Anderson both asked to leave while intubated with a ventilator and also “requested” administration of more medication at approximately 6:30 p.m. on March 6. In a period of around two days it is documented that Anderson received at least 25 doses of dexmedetomidine. Anderson was released six days after arriving at St. Lukes.
Anderson now asserts that he didn’t receive all the medical records he requested, and that his medical bill proves this as Anderson’s bill dropped from approximately $76,000 to $39,000 after he requested his medical records. “They only gave me half of the medical records that they wrote off. They don’t want to give them to me and called up the jail to have me not call them no more. I wasn’t being rude, I was talking the way I’m talking to you right now. That my bill was $76,000 (St Lukes hangs up) I called them back (St Lukes hangs up), a few minutes later a Sergeant is at the unit,” Anderson said regarding his phone inquiries from jail to St. Lukes. “I think they gave me way more than what they’re saying.”
After his hospital stay, Anderson has not fully recovered from the incident. “You’ve got to look at the long term effects of my health and I don’t even know what’s wrong with me. I know I’ve got issues. I’ve got open sores on my skin and I don’t know if it’s my kidneys or my liver functioning right. My vision is messed up. I’ve got permanent nerve damage that I take two medications for,” said Anderson.
Tasered Once in the Back?
Anderson claims to have been tased multiple times. “My feet, legs, chest, I’ve got a few taser wounds on my arm. I’ve got some nerve damage in my arm, I’ve got nerve damage throughout my whole body. Multiple taser wounds in my feet it says in this report. It’s not me saying this, it’s a doctor,” said Anderson. A medical report from Allina Health in the Twin Cities states, “The are numerous marks from tazers on his left and right foot,” and confirms that he did in fact have a number of taser wounds in his feet.
Another interesting piece of evidence that Anderson carries with him is a foreign object in his left chest area. According to taser.com, the length of a taser probe in Taser’s XP cartridge model is 1.35 cm long. A medical document from St. Luke’s dated on the morning of March 5 notes “a 1.2 cm pin-shaped radiopaque foreign body overlying the left chest.” (see X-ray image) An X-ray from the Orthopaedic Associates of Duluth that was done on Anderson shows an object that resembles a taser probe and backs up the document. The object is narrow and pin-shaped with a noticeable barb similar to a straightened out fishhook. The Duluth Police Department uses the X-26 model of taser which accepts the XP cartridge. Anderson will soon have the object removed. Anderson indicated that he has never been tased before this incident. This documentation of multiple taser wounds to the feet, and at least one to the chest stands in stark contrast to the Duluth Police version of events wherein there was only one shot into his back.
“Where’s Your Proof?”
Anderson believes that his run in with law enforcement may have been motivated in some way to demonize Jim Carlson and his business, The Last Place on Earth, which was known to sell synthetic drug products until it closed in July. “The doctors are trying to make this a synthetic drug thing because they found a wrapper on me, as you see in the progress notes, ‘suspected, questioned, possibly,’ and in the medical reports it says, ‘likely caused.’ Where’s your proof to back this?” It was reported by both hospital and police records that a wrapper of Riptide bath salts and six $100 dollar bills were in his rectum. Anderson claims that these were placed in him by the Duluth Police Department.
There are no records stating if Anderson sustained any trauma to his anal/rectal area, “I’m not into that sort of thing,” stated Anderson regarding the subject. Sgt. Holton states in his report, “I then noticed that his right hand was inside his rectum, up to the last set of knuckles.”
It is uncertain if Anderson was actually on a synthetic drug or any other drug. There is no documentation stating specifically that he was on any kind of drug which might explain the behavior. A drug test conducted by St. Luke’s shows that Anderson tested negative for Benzodiazepines, Cocaine, Opiates, Phencyclidine, Methadone, Amphetamines, and Barbiturates. Anderson did test positive for THC (marijuana), but it seems highly unlikely that THC in his system would have played a part in his encounter with law enforcement or being sent to the hospital and definitely did not cause the rhabdomyolysis, kidney failure or his clinical death. There are tests for synthetic drugs which Anderson was believed to be on, but from the reports we received, we found nothing definitive saying that Anderson had synthetic drugs in his system and no tests were conducted to determine if there were any.
What Can Cause Rhabdomyolysis?
It’s documented that Anderson’s rhabdomyolysis led to his kidney and respiratory failure. What led to the condition could have been caused by a number of things. According to a St. Luke’s Hospital report, “there was concern for rhabdomyolysis given the fact that he has been tazered.” The tensing up of the muscles as with what happens when a person is being tased can lead to the condition. A report on the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s website states, “rhabdomyolysis has been associated with patients sustaining a TASER® shock, with a 1% incidence rate in subjects subdued with earlier versions of the device and then brought to the Emergency Department (ED)...Although a direct link between the TASER® and the reported adverse effects has not been established, patients who undergo restraint via this device frequently have pre-existing conditions or have exhibited behavior that places them at risk for the development of those effects. Such awareness of these possible complications is vital because the evaluation and management of patients developing adverse effects after these events will commonly occur in the ED.”
Bath salts can also lead to the condition. According to a 2012 report by the National Kidney Foundation: “We report a case of recurrent acute kidney injury associated with repeated bath salts intoxication. The patient, who presented with neurologic and cardiovascular symptoms and signs, also developed rhabdomyolysis, hyperuricemia, and metabolic acidosis as part of the clinical presentation. Bath salts intoxication should be included on the list of substances that can cause acute kidney injury and other metabolic abnormalities.”
Another possible cause for the condition is “excited delirium,” which is mentioned several times in the police and hospital reports. According to a report from the American College of Emergency Physicians, “excited delirium is a condition that manifests as a combination of delirium, psychomotor agitation, anxiety, hallucinations, speech disturbances, disorientation, violent and bizarre behavior, insensitivity to pain, elevated body temperature, and superhuman strength. Excited delirium is sometimes called excited delirium syndrome if it results in sudden death (usually via cardiac or respiratory arrest), an outcome that is sometimes associated with the use of physical control measures, including police restraint.” There is debate about how valid the condition of “excited delirium” even is, it is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association or the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization. The interesting thing about “excited delirium” is that it almost exclusively occurs in people being apprehended by law enforcement. Traumatic brain injury can also increase the risk of “excited delirium” and Anderson does have a past TBI although besides that it is documented in hospital records and that he states he did sustain a TBI in an auto accident, it was not evident to us when we met with him.
The Reader talked with a man who is a coroner and also former ER nurse and he noted that when police are tased during their training, they are generally healthy and have not been abusing substances. This may lead them to believe that tasers are totally safe and it won’t be until “a politician’s kid ends up dead” for there to be any real studies on the many variables that a taser effects can have from one person to another.
Disclosure of Evidence
Anderson indicated that an attorney had asked for police dash camera footage of the incident and that the Duluth Police Department had said that there was none. Given that there were a minimum of four squad cars at the scene, that seemed rather unlikely. Officer Jim Hansen in the Police record’s department assisted The Reader in obtaining the dash camera footage via a rather lengthy process which required release forms and a letter of consent from Anderson.
Once we obtained the DVD, we discovered it would not play and had it analyzed by two techies. The first person to look at it said that the DVD was using an “antiquated playing system” used by the Police Department. Another techie was able to convert the files so they could play. Memo to the Duluth Police Department; why not give DVDs that are unencrypted to us next time?
As far as the footage we did recieve, it’s rather inconclusive. And it has been censored, apparently to eliminate police profanity. And it is very, very incomplete. The one squad video that we did receive shows a squad car traveling from the area of the Plaza; on the radio an officer is heard saying, “I’m not getting out of my car.” (then a gap) pulling up Lake Avenue, turning left onto West Seventh Street at 1:10 a.m. There are two officers standing by a squad car facing East on West Seventh Street who appear to be looking at something off camera below the squad car. There are no signs of a struggle. The dash cam squad car pulls past the officers and faces uphill on Mesaba. A Police SUV is facing downhill on Mesaba. Anderson emerges from the left, walking naked and reaching at his buttocks, first with his right hand, then with his left. His motions seem spastic. There is no evidence of feces, and he is approached by an officer who appears to be Sgt. Holton at a walking pace. Anderson then moves out of the squad’s camera angle. Anderson does not seem to have been tasered yet. Once Anderson is out of view he can be heard moaning and yelling for help. Both a male and female officer can be heard repeatedly instructing Anderson to “get in the car.” After this, Anderson can be heard for about another 30 seconds screaming and moaning, it eventually drifts off to silence after another minute. At 1:13 a.m. there is mention of an ambulance on the squad’s radio. At 1:19 a.m. an officer can be heard saying, “I’m taking a shower after this deal.”
We did not receive dash camera footage from any of the other squad cars. The Duluth Police SUV (at least) seemed to have a much better angle on the taser incidents. Aside from the dash camera footage, we asked for an inventory of the taser cartridges used that night and if it would be possible to check on the activity of the tasers used. Tasers can be analyzed for information such as how long they were used when they are deployed. Officer Hansen checked into our request and told us that Deputy Chief, Robin Roeser, said that such information is not public and that only one taser cartridge was used by Officer Graves as is consistent with the police reports.
We found two witnesses to parts of the Anderson incident. One did not wish to speak about it at all. A woman named Stefanie who lived in the area called 911 to report a man screaming for help. She looked out her window and observed a man running naked down the street. The Reader asked her if there were any officers near the man at the time and she indicated that there none that she could see. This also tends to discredit Anderson’s claim that he removed his pants to remove taser barbs.
So What About Laura Condon?
Anderson consistently denies being under the influence of synthetic drugs or other illegal substances during the incident. We asked Condon about her discussion with Investigator Williams when she was in the St. Luke’s. “He asked me a couple of questions, he said that Cedric was in the hospital. I wasn’t really thinking right. He asked me something about bath salts or whatever he overdosed on. I don’t really know what happened because I went to the hospital before Cedric did.” When The Reader asked Condon if Anderson had a past with bath salts she stated, “no, not that I’m aware of.” Condon stated that she has been with Anderson for three and half years and his actions on March 5 were not typical for him and that he had been staying out of trouble.
Was He Charged?
No formal charges were ever pressed against Anderson from the March 5 incident. On the police records there is a pending case of Fifth Degree Possession of a Synthetic Narcotic that has not been pursued against him. Possible charges such as indecent exposure, resisting arrest, fleeing an officer on foot, disorderly conduct and public intoxication were not filed. Since hospital and police reports both state that they found “a wrapper” which would contain the synthetic drugs it is interesting that that is the charge they went with since there seems to be no mention of physical proof of the drug itself and there are no tests to indicate that he was ever on synthetic drugs.
Anderson claims that he is currently being held falsely over other unsubstantiated charges that lack any solid evidence and that he remains in jail due to a “Rule 20” where he is being held because prosecuting attorneys claim that he is mentally deficient. While we are not mental health specialists, we did note that Anderson suffers from depression and anxiety which seems understandable considering that he is in jail.
He Says, They Say
We really can’t say which side is telling the truth because we weren’t there. Earlier in 2013, Police Chief Gordon Ramsay championed the idea of equipping officers with personal cameras. In this case, having that type of video would be invaluable in knowing what really happened. Having officers wear personal cameras has led to a drastic reduction of complaints against the police departments that use them.
We were given Anderson’s medical records with written and verbal permission to use for this report. Any request for a document regarding this incident must be gained through Anderson’s approval or through the medical institutions that originally submitted the records. Anderson is currently an inmate of the St. Louis County Jail.