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YOUNGSTOWN Death from swallowing cocaine sparks lawsuit



Published: Fri, August 30, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The family seeks $14 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

YOUNGSTOWN -- The family of a Salem man who died after swallowing cocaine during a traffic stop in Austintown is suing the township, police chief and officers who handled his arrest.

In a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court, Anthony Anzevino's widow and parents seek $9 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages on behalf of themselves, Anzevino and his minor child.

Anzevino, 25, of Western Reserve Road, died March 5. Police had found him covered with suspected powdered cocaine. He died after being arrested and taken to the police station.

Dr. David M. Kennedy, Mahoning County coroner, ruled the death accidental April 2.

The suit names Patrol Officer Greg Brinsko, Sgt. Ronald Deamicis and Chief Gordon Ellis. It contends they violated Anzevino's constitutional rights and caused his death through negligence and indifference. It was filed by Atty. Martin E. Yavorcik of Poland and Atty. James Vivo of Youngstown.

Ellis declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

What happened

Anzevino had been pulled over by Brinsko after leaving the lot of a restaurant on South Canfield-Niles Road about 2:15 a.m., the lawsuit says. Anzevino worked there as a chef, a coroner's report shows.

Brinsko pulled him over after learning that the vehicle registration on the car Anzevino drove had expired five days earlier.

Anzevino had refused to stop, leading police on a 28-mile-per-hour chase, the lawsuit says, and was eventually stopped with the help of Deamicis.

White powder was found down the front of his shirt, on his lap, around his nose and mouth and on his hands. He told police it was cocaine.

Police found marijuana, a marijuana pipe and samples of prescription anti-depressants and heartburn medications in the car.

He was charged with three drug abuse counts and fleeing and eluding and was taken to the police station, the lawsuit says.

Became ill

About 3:40 a.m., Anzevino became confused and disoriented before becoming erratic and twitching. Brinsko called an ambulance.

The lawsuit says emergency medical technicians were told at the police station that Anzevino had ingested cocaine but were not informed that he had eaten it during the traffic stop.

It further says that Brinsko and Deamicis did not offer to take Anzevino for medical treatment during the traffic stop or arrest and that they did not warn him of the dangers of swallowing cocaine.

An autopsy showed that Anzevino died of seizures and cardiac dysrhythmia because of cocaine overdose. His stomach held two plastic bags, one containing Ecstasy pills.

Anzevino was taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center and pronounced dead at 4:29 a.m.




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