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Policeman May Ban Choke Hold Following Man’s Death

April 22, 1985

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Police say they will review the use of choke holds following the death of an off-duty security guard in a convenience store fight.

Lloyd D. Stevenson, a 31-year-old father of five, died about 45 minutes after the hold was applied late Saturday, police said.

Sgt. Jay Decker, a police spokesman, said officers Gary Barbour, 30, and Bruce Pantley, 35, were called to the 7-Eleven convenience store to remove a shoplifter who had been subdued by a clerk.

Barbour and Pantley were putting the suspect into their patrol car when a fight broke out between Stevenson and two men in the parking lot, Decker said.

Stevenson, who was 6-foot-4 and weighed 240 pounds, struck the officers as they tried to question him and Barbour subdued him with a choke hold known as the ″carotid sleeper,″ Decker said.

Stevenson lost consciousness and the officers called for an ambulance while they tried to revive him with cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Decker said. He was pronounced dead shortly after midnight at Holladay Park Hospital, police said.

Decker said he did not know why the two men were fighting with Stevenson.

Dr. Larry Lewman, a state medical examiner who performed an autopsy on Stevenson, said he died from the effects of the choke hold.

″It’s a well-known complication,″ Lewman said. ″It’s rare that it’s fatal, but it happens.″

Stevenson, a security guard for Fred Meyer stores in Portland, was a karate expert who had studied criminal justice at a local community college, said his 29-year-old wife, Susanna. He had gone to the all-night convenience store to play pinball and buy ice cream, she added.

Police Chief Penny Harrington said the death was ″tragic″ and that, as far as she knows, the officers followed established procedures.

″They did not do anything wrong,″ she said. ″We will be reviewing the use of the hold and we are going to have to decide if we will continue to use it.″

Barbour has been with the department for three years, while Pantley is an 11-year veteran, Decker said.

Use of the hold has been banned or limited in other jurisdictions.

Lewman said the hold is used to depress the carotid artery, one of the main blood vessels supplying oxygen to the brain.

″The theory is that you cut off the blood supply and the guy loses consciousness but he comes back right away,″ Lewman said. ″This guy didn’t.″

The case will be investiated by detectives and referred to the district attorney, Ms. Harrington said. A grand jury is expected to consider if the death was accidental or the result of negligence, she added.

The death was the first in Oregon attributed to the choke hold.

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