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Inmate's Death Remains a Mystery, Shows Possible Signs of EXDS Phenomenon

LEESBURG – It's been nearly a year since 50-year-old Timothy Lee Peters become unresponsive inside the Hernando County Jail, and then later died at a nearby hospital. The community wanted answers, but the Hernando County Sheriff's Office did not provide much of an explanation, at least not to local media.

Peters was booked into the detention center on April 13, 2022, on several counts of battery on LEO or Firefighter, Resisting Arrest, Trespassing, and Assault on LEO. Peters' mugshot shows obvious signs of abrasions and lacerations on his face, which would be indicative of fighting with law enforcement, however, without body camera footage there is no way to determine what happened and when. It should be noted that Sheriff Al Nienhuis vehemently opposes the use of body cameras with his deputies.

Just before 2:30 p.m. on April 15, 2022, officials say they observed Peters to be unresponsive while housed in the medical unit. Detention Deputies and staff performed CPR until Fire Rescue arrive on scene, and then he was transported to Bravera Health Brooksville for treatment. So disturbed by Peters' condition when he arrived in the Emergency Room, a nurse contacted R News to report what she observed. The nurse, who wished to remain anonymous, says Peters had numerous injuries all over his body, and damage to his throat that she says appeared to be a "crushed trachea." She also says Peters' injuries were fresh and did not match those in his mugshot. The emergency room staff were able to resuscitate Peters and then transferred him to the intensive care unit (ICU). Peters died the very next day on April 16th.

R News obtained a copy of the medical examiner's report this week, but that led to more questions than answers.

According to the autopsy report, Peters collapsed while he was restrained and wearing a spit hood. It is noted that he had lacerations and hemorrhaging inside his mouth. The report also indicates that he had numerous contusions, abrasions, and lacerations on his body. A toxicology report only showed the presence of THC and no other drugs. They did note that Peters showed some signs of cirrhosis of the liver.

The Medical Examiner (ME) notes several lacerations and abrasions on his forehead and around the eyes, in addition to numerous injuries to his hands, and legs, with emphasis on blunt force trauma to his knees. Despite superficial injuries to the neck being present at the hospital, the ME did not find damage to the internal structures of the trachea, vocal cords, or larynx.

During an examination of Peters' torso, the ME discovered hemorrhaging around four of his ribs, as well as a partially collapsed lung.

Detention Center staff noted in their report that Peters showed signs of Delirium Tremens in the hours before his collapse. Law Enforcement experts around that country have discovered a direct correlation between violent subjects who die in custody and Excited Delirium (EXDS). EXDS is extreme excitation, commonly associated with illicit drug or alcohol abuse, which can lead to extreme agitation, delirium, violence with no compliance to overwhelming force, and the need for physical restraint.

According to experts, Law Enforcement agencies should implement EXDS training, so that subjects who show signs of the phenomenon are provided the proper care.

Peters autopsy showed no signs of disease in the heart or other organ that would explain how he died, leaving the medical examiner to classify the cause of death as undetermined.

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office has not responded to our numerous requests for comment.

 

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