Over a week after Yale assistant professor Samuel See was found dead in a New Haven jail cell, few details have emerged — and many questions remain — surrounding the cause of his death.
See was detained Nov. 23 following a domestic dispute at his home on St. John Street. He was found unresponsive in his cell on Nov. 24, but as of Sunday the death was listed as “pending further study,” according to the chief state medical examiner’s office. See, whose research focused on British and American modernist literature and sexuality, was on leave this semester from Yale’s English Department.
Both the Connecticut Judicial Branch and the NHPD are investigating the circumstances surrounding See’s death, according to press releases issued on Wednesday by Judicial Branch spokesperson Rhonda Stearley-Hebert and NHPD spokesman David Hartman.
“[See] was alert and communicating with Judicial Marshals throughout his detainment,” Stearley-Hebert said in the Judicial Branch’s statement. “Marshals found him non-responsive in his cell at approximately 6 a.m. on Nov. 24 [and] immediately provided CPR and other lifesaving efforts.” She added that an internal review is being conducted to make sure the Judicial Marshals’ policies and procedures were followed.
Hartman said See was placed in police custody after being treated for a minor injury at Yale-New Haven Hospital following a confrontation with his husband, Sunder Ganglani, last Saturday afternoon.
Although See and his husband had mutual protective orders against each other, Ganglani had returned to their Wooster Square home on Saturday afternoon to retrieve some belongings, leading to the confrontation, Hartman said. Police arrived after one of the men’s sisters reported the domestic dispute to the police.
When officers on the scene informed See that his husband also had a protective order against him, See “became enraged,” Hartman added.
“He yelled that it was his house and that he shouldn’t be arrested. See fought with Officers when they tried handcuffing him,” Hartman said in the NHPD release. “As See was led to a Police car, he yelled to one of the arresting Officers, ‘I will kill you … I will destroy you.’”
Both men, who were married in May, were arrested Sept. 18 on charges of assault in the third degree and breach of peace. Ganglani is due to appear in court Thursday on the charge of violating a protective order during Saturday’s confrontation.
See was also charged with violating a protective order, in addition to interfering with police and threatening in the second degree, Hartman said in the Wednesday release. Officers called Emergency Medical Services to the scene to evaluate a cut above See’s eye — the only injury reported after the confrontation — and an ambulance transported See to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where his injury was treated.
Mark D’Antonio, the media coordinator for Yale New Haven-Hospital, said that patients brought in under police custody are given the same level of treatment as any other patient. Patients, like See, would only be released if they were declared fit for discharge by hospital staff, D’Antonio said.
D’Antonio did not comment on the prevalence of tests for drugs or other potentially fatal substances in the hospital’s examination of arrested patients.
On Thursday, the New Haven Independent quoted an unnamed source — neither an inmate nor a judicial marshal but an alleged witness to the early Sunday morning events in the detention facility — saying that See had not committed suicide and that there was no sign of a struggle in his cell.
Neither the New Haven police nor the state Judicial Branch has released any further information about what unfolded in the detention center or the cause of death. As of Sunday afternoon, Yale Spokesperson Tom Conroy said the University had no updated information regarding See’s death. Conroy said the University is awaiting the medical examiner’s report and is also in communication with police, who are conducting a “number of interviews.”
In the wake of See’s death, speculation also mounted surrounding the professor’s personal life. The New Haven Register launched an investigation into See’s background last Friday, raising questions about the professor’s involvement in a local escort service called Ryan Cochran Escort Services, whose website features pictures of See that match the professor’s LinkedIn profile image.
A Facebook page under the name Ryan Cochran includes See’s home address and has at least one picture of See. The Facebook page indicates that the user has checked in at locations that include Los Angeles, New Haven and Brooklyn. A White Pages Online search of the name Ryan Cochran yielded no results in the New Haven area.
Christopher Looby, an English professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, where See received his Ph.D., said he had no information about See’s personal life. Members of the Yale English department similarly declined to comment on information concerning See’s life beyond the classroom.
Neither Conroy nor Hammer responded to request for comment regarding the date that the University was first made aware of See’s passing.