An autopsy found that Kemp Yarborough cause of death was by “acute bronchial asthma attack during a physical altercation including pepper spray,” the city medical examiner told the New York Daily News.
Prosecutors are now thinking about filing charges against the NYPD officers who sprayed Yarborough on March 8 of this year.
The incident happened when police officers responded to reports of a street fight. Yarborough, 36 at the time, was questioned by the officers for his involvement in the fight.
Yarborough, who had done eight years in jail for a 1990 murder conviction, denied any involvement with the fight and soon began having trouble breathing. According to witness, Yarborough reached for his inhaler while being questioned by the officers. Yarborough’s action caused the police to tackle him to the ground and pepper spray him.
“He went down like timber,” William Martin told the New York Daily News. Martin, Yarborough’s attorney and an eye-witness to the incident, says the police ignored his client’s wishes as he begged for his inhaler. “He told them he couldn’t breathe. After five to 10 minutes, he started foaming at the mouth and eventually died,” Martin explained. The officers performed CPR but could not revive him.
Police claim Yarborough was in possession of illegal substances when he died, but the NYPD hasn’t provided a full report of the incident. The NYPD has yet to respond on the matter.
In 2005, records show Yarborough was arrested for being in possession of a weapon and a controlled substance. His wife said he had changed his ways since then and has been working as a security guard.
“I want justice for my husband,” his widow, Erica Coleman-Yarborough, told the media. “He was having an asthma attack, but instead of helping him, these officers pepper sprayed him.”