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Questions arise after new autopsy report in man's in-custody death

HOUSTON – The family of a man who died in police custody says a new autopsy report contradicts the cause of death determined by the Harris County Medical Examiner's Office.

Darrall Thomas, 21, was one of three men accused of trying to break into an ATM at a Bank of America on the Katy Freeway.

Hedwig Village police caught up with the men and found Thomas in a nearby creek. Officers said he was in respiratory distress and took him to a hospital, where he died.

The Medical Examiner's Office listed his manner of death was accidental and cause of death as “acute toxic effects of amphetamine and N-ethylpentylone or ecstasy.”

But the report from a private doctor hired by Thomas' family claims otherwise.

"The death of Darrall Thomas was not caused by combined drug effects of amphetamine and N-ethylpentylone as suggested by the medical examiner. With a lack of any major pathological findings, the cause and manner of death of Darrall Thomas is undetermined," wrote Dr. Michael Illiescu of Chandler, Arizona.

Illiescu said the amount of drugs in Thomas' system was not enough to kill him and that more forensic investigation is needed.

Thomas' family said it will present the independent autopsy report to the Harris County District Attorney's Office and the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences on Wednesday. 

The family is also asking for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.


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