Medical Examiner: Restraint Killed Girl, 7
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 13, 2006
RICE LAKE, WISCONSIN--An autopsy has revealed that 7-year-old Angellika Arndt suffocated to death last month, and that the form of restraint that staff at a mental health clinic used on her might have contributed to her death.
The medical examiner's office in Hennepin County, Minnesota, said Friday that the girl died from "complications from chest compression asphyxiation". Even though her death was ruled a homicide, which simply means that it was caused by one or more persons, investigators are not yet ready to say whether criminal charges would be sought against the staff at the clinic where she was restrained.
The president of Northwest Counseling and Guidance Clinic, Denison Tucker, told reporters that the foster child had been a "day patient" at the clinic for about a month, when on May 25 she became "out of control" in the center's kitchen. Tucker said that staff members put Arndt in a "controlled hold" with two staff members restraining her arms and shoulders as the girl was held face down on the floor.
Witnesses have said that Arndt calmed down several times, but then would get "worked up" again. The staff released the girl after about 40 minutes, when they said she had finally settled down.
Five minutes later, they noticed that Arndt had stopped breathing. Efforts to resuscitate her were not successful, and she died the next day at Minneapolis Children's Hospital.
Tucker and the clinic's board of directors have denied that there was any wrongdoing, saying that the staff properly followed the facility's policies and procedures on handling behavior problems. Tucker suggested that medical complications, including Arndt's medications, might have contributed to her death.
Wisconsin's Department of Health and Family Services announced Tuesday that it has ordered Northwest Counseling to stop using the hold while the agency conducts its own investigation.
Police say they have responded to at least two other complaints of other children being restrained inappropriately at the clinic -- one in September and another in April.
"Charges pondered in death of girl, 7" (Pioneer Press)
"State puts restrictions on use of control holds at Rice Lake clinic" (KARE-TV)