Death Laid to Overdose of Medicine

From The Oregonian, June 21, 1988 – not available online.

A man who died June 10 shortly after being taken into custody by Portland police had overdosed on the medication he used to control his schizophrenia, the Multnomah County medical examiner said Monday.

James Patrick Nydegger, 37, of 5712 N. Interstate Ave., had taken “an incredibly high dose” of the medication, Dr. Karen Gunson said after reviewing toxicology reports. She said he had taken an amount more than 20 times what is usually prescribed.

Nydegger began having problems breathing shortly after his ankles and wrists were put in cuffs and he was placed in a patrol car outside his apartment, according to Portland Police Bureau reports.

Emergency crews were called by police, and Nydegger was taken to Bess Kaiser Medical Center, where his heart stopped.

His family has hired Des Connall, a Portland attorney, to look into the death. Connall has requested that a second autopsy be performed by Dr. William Brady, a former state medical examiner who now is in private practice.

Review of findings set

Brady said Monday that he and Connall planned to review Gunson ‘s findings before deciding whether to proceed further.

Nydegger’s brother, Joe, of Boring, has said that witnesses’ versions of the incident do not coincide with the police reports. He said witnesses told him the police handled his brother roughly and refused his repeated requests for water.

The incident started when police were sent to the 5700 block of Interstate Avenue to investigate a report of a man shouting in the street. When they arrived, they found James Nydegger displaying erratic behavior. They put cuffs on his wrists and ankles and placed him in a police car. Then they began to question a woman who had called to complain about the incident.

While talking to her, police said they noticed that Nydegger was kicking the patrol car’s doors and windows. They removed him from the car and used a flexi-cuff, a police-issued plastic band, to cuff his ankles to his belt behind his back. They put him back in the car, but noticed a few minutes later he was having problems breathing and called for medical help.