Pocomoke City police officers to remain on duty during probe
POCOMOKE CITY -- Unidentified officers from the Pocomoke City Police Department will remain on duty while the Maryland State Police investigates the circumstances surrounding the death of an individual officers were attempting to arrest.
Yakuana McDonald, 23, of Virginia Beach was pronounced dead at Peninsula Regional Medical Center on Friday after spending three days in the Intensive Care Unit.
McDonald was taken to PRMC on May 28, after reportedly being involved in a car accident, fleeing from police and falling unconscious after being handcuffed.
"Based on the accident itself, my heart goes out to the family, but I stand by my officers 100 percent," said PCPD Chief Kelvin Sewell. "I'm confident that after the investigation is completed, the officers will be okay."
Sewell did not wish to release the names of the officers and said that until the results of the MSP investigation are released, he has no plans to place them on administrative leave or take any actions against them.
"I'm confident with the way the scene was and the accident itself that, based on the MSP investigation, those officers aren't going to be at fault," Sewell said.
Officers from the Pocomoke City Police Department first came in contact with McDonald on May 28 after being called to a vehicle crash on Route 13 south of Brantley Road at about 5:30 p.m.
Maryland State Police investigators said after arriving at the scene, Pocomoke City police officers found McDonald, who they believe was driving, and his brother Thadius McDonald, standing next to the vehicle.
The car was reportedly on its roof on the southbound shoulder of Route 13.
"They were driving northbound in the southbound lane of Coastal Highway," Sewell said. "The car hit the brim and flipped over. I don't know how those two guys survived that crash."
The officers allegedly saw a controlled dangerous substance in the car and attempted to take the two into custody. Yakuana McDonald then led city police officers on a half-mile chase as he allegedly tried to evade arrest, according to a press release from the Maryland State Police.
After the Pocomoke City police officers caught Yakuana McDonald, he reportedly began kicking and fighting with the officers. After being handcuffed, the officers were trying to carry him back to a police vehicle when he fell unconscious, according to a news release from MSP.
A Maryland state trooper from the Berlin Barrack performed CPR on Yakuana McDonald before emergency medical personnel took over and transported him to PRMC.
He was pronounced dead on Friday after succumbing to his injuries. His body was taken to the Medial Examiner's Office for an autopsy.
The Maryland State Police have taken over the death investigation with the assistance of the Worcester County State's Attorney's Office and the Worcester County Bureau of Investigation. The Pocomoke City Police Department has been left in charge of the crash and controlled dangerous substance investigations.
Maryland State Police Spokesperson Elena Russo said the PCPD asked the MSP to take over the death investigation. She said homicide detectives are frequently asked to take over death investigations of police-involved shootings, deaths while in police custody and similar incidents.
Russo says the length of the investigation is determined by several factors and that it isn't expected to differ from other death investigations conducted by MSP homicide.
"In any investigation, the investigators are collecting all the evidence they can and talking to witnesses to put all the information together and make sense out of what happened," Russo said.