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'Undetermined': York coroner releases autopsy results days after family claims murder

Staff report

Editor's note: This article originally was published July 28, 2018.

York County Coroner Pam Gay on Saturday, July 28, released Everett Palmer’s autopsy results, less than a week after his family and a lawyer stood on the courthouse steps and alleged he was murdered in custody.

The 41-year-old Delaware man’s April 9 death at York County Prison was the result of “complications following an excited state, associated with methamphetamine toxicity, during physical restraint,” according to the report, which noted “probably sickling red cell disorder” was a contributing factor.

The manner of Palmer’s death — such as homicide, suicide or accidental — was undetermined, according to the coroner.

Background: At the time of his death, Palmer was locked in the prison on DUI charges, according to court records.

Charging documents state he was driving a 2008 Honda Accord when he crashed in the 6500 block of Steltz Road just after 2 a.m. on Oct. 28, 2016.

A photo of Everett Palmer Jr. is displayed on a sign during a press conference at the York County Judicial Center Monday, July 23, 2018. Family members and legal counsel are seeking information regarding the death of the Palmer while he was in custody at York County Prison last April. Bill Kalina photo

Palmer was charged with DUI, careless driving and failing to stay in his own lane.

After he failed to respond to a court summons from the office of District Judge Thomas Reilly, the judge issued an arrest warrant for Palmer on Jan. 23, 2017, court records state.

He was arrested Saturday, April 7, after turning himself in. He was later taken to the county's central booking unit, where he was arraigned that night on his charges and had bail set at $5,000, records state.

He was then committed to York County Prison.

Palmer was in his single cell at the Springettsbury Township facility when he started hitting his head against his cell door after becoming agitated about 4:20 a.m. Monday, April 9, according to the coroner's office.

Family and supporters of Everett Palmer Jr. gather at the York County Judicial Center to attend a press conference Monday, July 23, 2018. Family members and legal counsel are seeking information regarding the death of the Palmer while he was in custody in York County Prison last April. Bill Kalina photo

He was taken to the prison's medical clinic, where he became unresponsive about 4:45 a.m., according to the coroner's office.

Palmer was then taken to York Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:46 a.m., the coroner's office said.

Autopsy: An autopsy performed April 10 at Allentown's Lehigh Valley Hospital failed to immediately determine the cause and manner of his death, which were listed as pending, according to Gay.

Marlon Kirton, a New York attorney, said Palmer’s family was told those results would be released within 90 days, but the family was still waiting Monday — 104 days later — when they stood on the steps of the York County Judicial Center and demanded answers.

Kirton and the family offered their own theory as to what led to the death of the Army veteran, personal trainer and father of two.

"Unfortunately, in this country, many unarmed African-American men and women end up killed at the hands of law enforcement," Kirton said. "We think that's exactly what happened here."

State police, which are investigating Palmer’s death, declined to address the allegation, noting the investigation is ongoing.

The county district attorney's office also declined to comment and directed inquiries to County Commissioner Doug Hoke, president of the prison board.

County spokesman Mark Walters declined to comment on behalf of all three county commissioners and the prison.

Gay’s Saturday news release states no further information was available from her office.