Police reports exonerate authorities in See’s death

Authorities involved in the arrest and detainment of Samuel See were not responsible for the death of the late Yale assistant professor, according to two reports obtained by the News on Sunday.

Internal investigations conducted both by the Connecticut Judicial Branch and the New Haven Police Department found that judicial marshals and police officers complied with all procedures and exhibited neither brutality nor negligence in their dealings with See, who died in police lockup last fall.

See, on unpaid leave from Yale at the time, was detained on Nov. 23 following a domestic dispute with his husband, Sunder Ganglani. He was found dead shortly after 6 a.m. the next morning. A toxicology report certified his cause of death as a methamphetamine-induced heart attack.

Ten hours earlier he was treated for a cut above his eye at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

The Judicial Branch, which oversees the lockup center at 1 Union Ave. where See was held, released a report which includes summaries of interviews with 13 marshals present during See’s confinement. An internal affairs report of the New Haven Police Department includes statements from arresting officers as well as interviews with judicial marshals on duty at the time of See’s death. Both reports also include detailed descriptions of video surveillance showing marshals checking in on See — even having conversations with the inmate two hours before he was found unresponsive on the top bunk of his cell.

“There is no evidence to support the fact Samuel See’s death … was the result of negligence or inattention by Judicial Marshal Services staff,” the Judicial Branch’s investigation concludes.

The police department’s sudden death investigation, conducted by Detective Michael White, found that marshals “followed their protocols and checked all inmates every 15 minutes.”

Based on the statements of four arresting officers, Detective Craig Dixon reported finding no evidence that any departmental rules or gender orders were violated. He deemed the officers involved in the incident exonerated.

See sustained the cut above his eye during a tussle with arresting officers in the bedroom of his home, the internal affairs report states. Officers Vincent Deleo and Daniel Hartnett were “trying to gain control” of See when all three men fell forward into a wall, causing a laceration above See’s left eye, according to statements from the officers. See threatened to kill Harnett as he was being handcuffed, Deleo reported.

Reached Sunday, Kelly Flanagan, See’s sister, said she remains unsatisfied with the statements of authorities regarding the events leading up to her brother’s death. She said there are “major discrepancies” in both reports but declined to specify further given that the family is still considering legal action. Flanagan told the News in January that the family was weighing a wrongful death lawsuit against both the police department and the Judicial Branch.

The attorney for See’s family, Yale Law School professor David Rosen LAW ’69, said he is still actively pursuing information about the circumstances of See’s death. Rosen declined to comment on the reports.

In an interview with White, Ganglani reportedly said his husband had taken up methamphetamines to “counter act the psych meds” he was taking for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and manic depression.

Marshals quoted in the Judicial Branch report said See was cooperative — even polite — and complained of no injury or medical ailment.

Marshal Roberto Ortiz, tasked with intake when See arrived at the lockup center, told investigators that he could not tell if See was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

“All he was talking about was how he screwed up with the police officers,” the report quotes Ortiz as saying. See was arrested at his home in Wooster Square after his sister called police to the scene to separate him from Ganglani, who had returned to retrieve his belongings after leaving voluntarily the day before. See and Ganglani had protective orders registered against each other.

Ganglani, who was also arrested, was kept in a nearby cell. Lead marshal Timothy Reilly said the two men may have engaged in a brief argument between their two cells.

According to interviews with marshals described painstakingly in the 81-page report, See was otherwise quiet throughout the night and early morning, alternating between sitting and lying down and at times rotating between the bottom and top bunk. Marshal Anthony Rilley said he did not hear See make any noises that would have indicated that he was in distress.

From video surveillance, marshal Michael Harrington can be seen conversing with See shortly after 4 a.m., the report states. Harrington is quoted saying that See had asked him if his sister had called.

Harrington checked with Rilley, who told him that See’s mother, Ann Sturdivant, had called to say “something about his medication” and that she was going to bring it to him, the report quotes Harrington as saying. When Harrington told See, the inmate remarked: “what, is she going to perform a miracle?” as See’s mother resides in California.

During his conversations with See, Harrington reported, the inmate did not look well. Indeed, he looked like a “concentration camp person,” Harrington said. But See never indicated that he was sick or suffering, Harrington told the investigator.

Marshal Christopher Dadio said See “seemed fine” and “did not seem altered at all.” Between 4:30 and 5:30 a.m., Dadio observed See sitting “Indian style” on his top bunk. He said See asked for juice, which he would have received at 6 a.m., when food was next distributed. Marshalls complied with his previous requests for juice, the report states.

See did not ask to make any telephone calls and never indicated that he was in pain, according to another marshal, Donald Abdul-Lateef.

The first sign that something was wrong came at around 6 a.m., when marshal Alberto Rivas was handing out meals to inmates. See “didn’t look right,” according to Rivas. Reilly, who was conducting a routine tour at the time, reported noting that See’s right arm was hanging over the side of the top bunk at an unusual angle.

“It wasn’t normal,” Reilly is quoted as saying in the report. He said he could not recall if See’s arm was in that position during his 5:45 a.m. tour.

After prodding See’s foot with no response, Reilly entered the cell and found See’s mouth and eyes wide open. The report states that Reilly found See’s eyes “glazed and glassy.” There were no signs of suicide, he said: no choking or signs of distress to the neck.

Marshals reported administering CPR for roughly eight minutes before emergency response personnel arrived, according to Detective White’s police report. See was declared dead at 6:15 a.m.

See’s body was covered with a blanket and left in the custody of the chief medical examiner’s office, the report states.

“The patient … was gone,” Harrington said in his statement. “There was nothing else to do.”

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