“It's amazing that District Attorney Don Totaro didn't say something like, "at this time the death is under investigation and I can't say anything more." “Totaro has come to a conclusion after less than 12 hours following the death - he is incredible. I think that he should star in a new show about clarvoyant DA's or something like that. He should run for coroner since he has skills that whip the average pathologist! “In Florida, the police were put on paid leave pending investigation. We shouldsend Don down there and he could clear it all up in a couple of minutes!”
Ron Harper of 5thestate.com who posted the above newspaper clip and said the above under this morning’s Intell article, “Man dies after fighting police” (click here).[Editor's note - 4-4-07 - the picture that accompanied this article will no longer publish. It is still under the Talkback under the article and it is a copy of an article from the paper with the headline, "Fla. woman dies after being shocked with Taser gun."]
I have never agreed with Ron more.This is an absolute outrage.Totaro did the same thing with the shooting of Daniel Faust and the death of James Sneddon.The day after Sneddon’s death, Totaro released the following press release (click here for the full text):
“At approximately , Wednesday, September 21, 2005, West Hempfield Township Police were called to the Daniel Forry farm located at 1015 Prospect Road, Columbia, PA., for a man acting in a bizarre manner.
Mr. Forry called 911 after he encountered a man in a mini-van stopped in the lane leading to his farm. The man was tearing the upholstery from the inside of the van, yelling and cursing and being largely non-responsive to Mr. Forry’s attempt to talk with him. Concerned about the violent nature of the man’s actions, Mr. Forry made a call to Lancaster County Wide Communications (911) from his cell phone requesting the police.
Two West Hempfield Township Officers responded within several minutes and as they approached the van, the man succeeded in ripping the entire upholstery panel from the driver’s door. He carried the panel over his head and ran toward Mr. Forry’s barn. The officers followed and managed to stop the man by the barn, while attempting to calm him and determine the problem. A struggle ensued and the man was able to break free, running to the barn and crashing through a bank of three windows on the side of the barn. Officers called for assistance and additional officers from WestHempfieldTownship as well as Columbia Borough responded. When the man retreated further into the barn, the officers entered and again attempted to calm him, asking that he leave the barn. The man initially began to walk toward the barn door, but suddenly began screaming incoherently. Officers attempted to restrain him and a protracted struggle ensued as they tried to handcuff the suspect. After several minutes the officers were successful in handcuffing him and he was carried from the barn struggling continuously. Officers laid the man on the ground outside the barn, where he continued to yell and flail about as they held him down. The suspect suddenly went limp, and officers immediately began CPR.
Upon carrying the man from the barn, officers had called for emergency medical personnel, who were already staged at the lane entrance, to come to the barn to treat the man for his lacerations from the broken glass. As a result, EMT’s reached the man within seconds of him lapsing into unconsciousness. The man was treated at the scene and then transported to the LancasterGeneralHospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
The deceased has been identified as:
James Craig Sneddon, age 41
2542 North Sherman Street
York, PA 17402”
I grew up less than a mile from where this took place.I know the property he was on.The day after Sneddon died – in fact the very next morning, DA Totaro was in a video on WGAL’s website saying the police had acted properly.This was an unarmed, 41 year-old man who went from alive to dead in a matter of minutes.A friend watched the video as Totaro said they put him on the ground and he died.Simple as that.The friend said, “That will teach to park your van on someone else’s property.”
Totaro was also quoted in a New Era article the same day saying, "Preliminary findings suggest that the officers acted properly faced with a violent individual who refused all orders to desist from his violent conduct and attempts to resist arrest." The man died somewhere around the night before.It is assumed that Totaro at least got some hours of sleep that night.So in literally several hours, he had somehow managed to investigate the whole incident and all of those involved and determine that the police acted properly in the death of a 41 year-old unarmed man.
On October 26, DA Totaro stated the following in a press release (click here for the full text):
“Based upon interviews with the Forry family and officers at the scene, preliminary findings showed that officers acted properly when faced with a violent individual who resisted arrest and refused all orders to refrain from violent conduct. However, the investigation remained open pending results of the autopsy and toxicology screen.
Toxicology results have now been obtained from National Medical Services, showing that a very high level of cocaine was present in the blood of Mr. Sneddon. According to Forensic Toxicologist Edward Barbieri, cocaine manifestations include restlessness, risk-taking, excitement and aggression, which are all consistent with the actions of Mr. Sneddon as described by witnesses. The autopsy has also been completed, and Lancaster County Forensic Pathologist Dr. Wayne K. Ross has determined that the cause of death was Complications due to Acute Cocaine Toxicity. The manner of death was Accidental.”
Would James Sneddon have died no matter what that night because of “acute cocaine toxicity?”