Family suspicious after Army veteran dies in police custody in Pennsylvania

NEW YORK (NY1/CNN) - The family of an Army veteran and father of two, who died while in police custody in Pennsylvania, are looking for answers about his death.

Everett Palmer Jr., 41, was the father of two boys and served in the Army as a paratrooper. He died in police custody in April 2018. (Source: Spectrum News NY1/CNN)

Everett Palmer Jr., 41, told his family last April he was traveling to York County, Penn., to resolve an outstanding warrant for a driving under the influence charge from 2016.

Two days later, authorities told Palmer’s family that their loved one had died in police custody.

An initial autopsy stated Palmer died after an incident following an excited state during which he started to hit his head against the inside of a cell door. The report says the “excited state” occurred as a result of methamphetamine toxicity. His cause of death was listed as undetermined.

Suspicious, Palmer’s family hired their own pathologist not long after the death. That pathologist determined the veteran’s death should be labeled a homicide. It was also discovered that the heart, brain and throat were missing from the body.

York County Coroner Pam Gay says those organs were retained as part of the forensic autopsy for additional testing and will not be released until the investigation is complete.

The family’s lawyer, civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, says the family believes the missing body parts will reveal details of how Palmer died.

The family hired Merritt in an effort to find answers they have not been able to get on their own. Merritt says officials have not been cooperative with providing an official manner of death.

Gay says investigations into possible drug-related deaths can take one to three years.

Palmer was the father of two boys. He served in the Army as a paratrooper.

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