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County Examiner Rules Epileptic’s Death a Homicide

Daily Herald

by Allison Kaplan Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted on Sunday. February 20, 2000

The death last year of an epileptic Hanover Park man who was allegedly restrained by police during a seizure has been ruled a homicide by the Cook County medical examiner.

Chief Medical Examiner Edmund Donoghue said in a report released Friday that 26-year-old Eric Stetter died of asphyxia due to compression of the neck and chest while being restrained.

An attorney for Stetter’s parents said the finding could bolster a lawsuit Gisela and Peter Stetter filed in federal court against the village of Hanover Park, the Hanover Park Fire Protection District, seven police officers and five paramedics.

The suit alleges that Stetter was treated like a criminal rather than a patient experiencing an epileptic seizure, attorney Dennis DeCaro said. The suit seeks damages for Eric Stetter’s predeath pain and suffering, as well as his parents’ suffering.

Hanover Park officials could not be reached for comment Saturday.

According to the lawsuit, on Oct. 9, 1999, Gisela Stetter phoned 911 requesting help for her son who was experiencing an epileptic seizure. This was not Stetter’s first seizure, DeCaro said.

Paramedics and police officers arrived on the scene and restrained Stetter, who resisted, DeCaro said. Stetter was handcuffed, pinned face down on a couch and his legs were bound. Stetter was placed face down on a paramedic’s board to be carried to an ambulance, the suit says, at which point an officer checked for a pulse and found none.

Stetter was pronounced dead at St. Alexis Medical Center in Hoffman Estates.