Professor’s cause of death still unknown

State medical examiners have ruled out trauma from a cut above his eye as the cause of death of Yale assistant professor Samuel See, according to a Wednesday update from New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman.

See, who was on leave this semester from the English Department, was found dead in the early morning of Nov. 23 in his cell at NHPD lockup. He was detained following a domestic dispute the day before with his estranged husband, Sunder Ganglani.

“The Medical Examiner advised that trauma had been ruled out as a cause of death for Mr. See,” City Hall spokeswoman Anna Mariotti wrote in the police update. “However, the Medical Examiner will not release a full, written, autopsy report until results from a toxicology report are received.”

See sustained the cut when he fell while resisting arrest by New Haven police on Nov. 22. Though See and Ganglani each had a protective order against the other, Ganglani had returned to See’s Wooster Square home to pick up some belongings in the afternoon of Nov. 22.

At 5:15 p.m., police officers arrived on the scene, responding to a report of a domestic dispute called in by See’s sister from out of state. Both men were placed under arrest for violating a protective order. Emergency Medical Services were called to the scene to evaluate See’s cut. He was then transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he was treated for his injury and released back into police custody.

See was transported to NHPD lock-up at 1 Union Ave. at 9:10 p.m. and turned over to the custody of state marshals, who administer the detention facility. He w as charged with violating a protective order, interfering with police and threatening in the second degree, having shouted at police officers and resisted arrest.

Rhonda Stearley-Hebert, spokesperson for the state Judicial Branch, said in a Monday email to the News that arshals make rounds in the jail to check up on detainees every 15 minutes.

During a routine check at 6 a.m. on the morning of Nov. 23, marshals found See unresponsive in his cell. They administered CPR and called in EMS personnel, who arrived and declared See dead at 6:15 a.m, Mariotti said in the Wednesday police statement.

After the scene was secured, See’s body was transported to the office of the chief state medical examiner for an autopsy. A week and two days later, the cut above See’s eye — and the associated trauma — was ruled out as his cause of death. The medical examiner will not release its full report until it receives toxicology results, which will check for the presence of poisonous substances in See’s system at the time of his death.

Mark D’Antonio, the media coordinator for Yale-New Haven Hospital, declined to comment Sunday on the prevalence of tests for drugs or other potentially fatal substances in the hospital’s examination of arrested patients. He could not be reached for immediate comment Wednesday afternoon.

Professors in the Yale English Department and at the University of California, Los Angeles, where See received his Ph.D., shed little light on the circumstances of See’s personal life pertaining to his leave from the University or his death a week and a half ago.

English Department Director of Undergraduate Studies John Rogers ’84 GRD ’89 told the News in an email last week that drugs were not the cause of See’s leave, saying he was “certain that Sam See’s leave was not related to drugs.”

Esserman said the police department is conducting a full investigation of the incident.

“Both the Internal and Investigative Services Unit investigations are ongoing and will include a full review of video from the State Marshal Detention Center and interviews and statements from all officers and marshals involved in the incident, as well as medical personnel and any other potential witnesses,” the release stated.

See’s cause of death is still listed as “pending further study,” according to a staffer at the office of the medical examiner, who said Wednesday afternoon that toxicology examinations take about 30 days to complete.

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