No answers from prelim autopsy in police custody death

No answers from prelim autopsy in police custody death (Image 1)

The attorney for the family of a Virginia man who died while in Enfield police custody said a preliminary autopsy did not show a definitive cause of death.

Dave Pilsbury said an autopsy performed on the body of Michael Gallagher showed early stages of heart and liver diseases.

Pilsbury said cocaine was also found in Gallagher’s system.

On Saturday around 11 p.m., Lt. Jerry Powell, 52, responded to a call in Enfield regarding a breaking and entering into Holley’s Flower and Gift Shop on Whitfield Street.

When Powell arrived, he encountered Michael Gallagher, 55, of Midlothian, Virginia.

“He did notice the store had been broken into and, on further investigation, he found the suspect inside,” said Sheriff Wes Tripp of Halifax County.

Powell, Gallagher and a witness, who was a former Halifax sheriff’s deputy, became engaged in a physical altercation, according to authorities. During the altercation, Powell’s Taser was deployed and hit Gallagher.

Powell and the witness were restrained Gallagher in handcuffs. Halifax County EMS was dispatched to the scene to treat Gallagher. EMS found Gallagher unresponsive and he was immediately taken to Halifax County Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Pilsbury also said Gallagher suffered a large cut to his ankle was bleeding profusely. He believed Gallagher received the cut from kicking in the door of a local business.

Pilsbury also said he has learned there was street surveillance video showing the arrest as well as police body camera video from the arresting officer.

He said he has not been granted access to that video, but is working to do so.

A final autopsy report could take “some time,” Pilsbury said.

Powell was placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.

According to WRIC in Richmond, Virginia, Gallagher had multiple previous convictions, including identity fraud, driving with a revoked or suspended license and petty larceny.

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