Caddo coroner rules on cause of Wavey Austin’s death

“There was no struggle (with police) and a Taser was not used,” Dr. Todd Thoma says

Coroner ruling on Wavey Austin's death

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — The official cause of Wavey Austin’s death is “cardiac arrhythmia secondary to febrile delirium,” Caddo’s coroner says.

“There was no struggle (with police) and a Taser was not used,” Dr. Todd Thoma says in a statement released Wednesday about the 63-year-old man’s death April 19.

Earlier this month, the Caddo district attorney’s office announced that it had received investigative reports from the Shreveport Police Department and was seeking more information about the deaths of Austin and Tommie McGlothen, both of which allegedly occurred while in they were in the custody of or under the control of Shreveport police.

Questions about Austin’s and McGlothen’s deaths also have been raised by 45 Days of Action-Shreveport and others. Organizers of the Facebook group say they are demanding justice and equity.

The coroner’s office defines febrile delirium as “an acute and transient confusional state with high fever.”

Following is an excerpt from the statement the coroner’s office released Wednesday:

“Wavey Austin, 63, died April 19, 2020 at WK Pierremont Health Center, after an off-duty Shreveport Police officer working as a security guard at the Park Villa Apartments attempted to talk to Austin following a complaint by a neighbor. The officer heard incoherent noises coming from Austin’s apartment and called Shreveport Fire Department paramedics after Austin would not answer his door.
“When paramedics arrived, Austin was confused and combative, and medical evaluation was not possible. Police were summoned and on arrival, officers contacted Austin, who still was confused, delusional and uncooperative. Austin was handcuffed so a medical evaluation could be performed. During the medical evaluation, Austin became unresponsive, and his heart rate slowed and eventually stopped. Paramedics began CPR and resuscitative measures. Austin was rushed to the closest available hospital, where further lifesaving measures proved unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at 10:46 p.m.”

Thoma goes on to say that Austin’s temperature was 101.5 degrees when he was at the hospital.

And an autopsy showed that Austin had “underlying hypertensive cardiovascular disease with an enlarged heart that contributed to his cardiovascular arrhythmia. No infective source or significant signs of trauma were found.”

A complete autopsy with toxicology and microscopic tissue evaluation failed to provide a definitive cause of death, says the statement from the coroner’s office. But Thoma determined that Austin had a febrile delirium and that his fever and delusional behavior were consistent with excited delirium.

However, Thoma added, “an exhaustive investigation into (Mr. Austin’s) medical history and interviews with close contacts failed to reveal any risk factors that are common in this condition. ...”

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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