The District Attorney's office is waiting to decide whether to bring charges against law enforcement officers in the death of a Wayne County inmate in May.
An autopsy report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner recently released to the News-Argus concluded that Wayne County inmate Graydon Jerome Parker III died May 22 from a lack of oxygen to the brain after going into cardiac arrest shortly after suffering blunt force trauma, physical restraint, pepper spray and stun gun use on May 20.
The report officially classifies the manner of Parker's death as a homicide.
District Attorney Matthew Delbridge said in an email, "... the word homicide as used in this context is a term of art and does not necessarily equate to an unlawful act."
The N.C. State Bureau of Investigation said the outcome of the investigation is pending Delbridge's decision. The sheriff's office, meanwhile, maintains that the officers involved acted in accordance with their training.
"We reviewed everything and our detention staff followed policy," said Wayne County Sheriff Larry Pierce. "As far as homicide, that just means 'died at the hands of another.' So it's not like it was murder -- that's not what it means -- it means he died at the hands of another. Self-defense would also be ruled homicide. That's just the way the medical examiner rules it."
The autopsy report said five jail staff members and one N.C. State Highway Patrol trooper were involved in an incident restraining Parker immediately before he fell into cardiac arrest.
Delbridge said he would not make a decision on whether or not to file charges in the case until he has time to adequately devote to it. He is currently preparing for a homicide trial in Lenoir County.
Parker was arrested Saturday, May 20, after deputies responded to a call of a possible breaking and entering in progress.
Deputies arrived to the area of Sanderson Road and discovered a car window had been broken out in the area. Their investigation led to Parker being developed as a suspect.
He was booked into the Wayne County Jail at about 11:44 a.m. that day on charges of injury to personal property and resisting, delaying and obstructing an officer.
Authorities say Parker ---- once in custody ---- became combative while in the jail, and pepper spray was used to subdue him. He was then placed, alone, in a holding cell.
The narrative included in the medical examiner's autopsy report details the events that followed.
Some time after being put in the holding cell, Parker began "banging his head and smearing feces."
Officers then reportedly pepper-sprayed him and ordered him to lie on the ground before securing his hands and wrists with cuffs and shackles behind his back.
Parker was then taken to a decontamination shower to be cleaned off, and the restraints were removed.
Parker then reportedly continued to be combative and uncooperative with law enforcement. A "conducted electrical weapon shield" -- a shield with a taser in it -- was allegedly used on Parker to no avail.
The shield was then used to pin Parker to the ground, and multiple officers also pinned him to the ground.
From there, the trooper involved allegedly tried to use a taser to stun Parker, which also had no effect, before deploying barbs, which reportedly slowed Parker down.
The jail staff then left the shower, and the trooper was alone with Parker.
Parker reportedly suffered cardiac arrest less than a minute after jail staff left the room, and the trooper, who had remained in the room, alerted jail staff.
The medical examiner's report goes on to detail the life-saving efforts employed by the jail staff and medics who responded.
Parker was attempted to be revived and medics were dispatched to the jail.
About 30 minutes of CPR was performed on Parker outside of the hospital.
He managed to develop a pulse after arriving at the hospital, but was given a poor prognosis.
Parker was pronounced brain dead on May 21 at 4:35 p.m., but his body was maintained on life support in an attempt to remove organs for donation on May 22. No tissue or organs were able to be recovered from Parker's body.
The case remains under investigation.
Pierce said officers followed policy, which is dictated by state standards and taught to them by instructors at Wayne Community College.
He declined to go into specific detail about the policy.
Pierce confirmed that none of the jail staff reportedly involved in the incident that preceded Parker's death were put on leave after his death.
"That's basically all I can say, is that our officers followed policy and I do not think there was any indication of excessive force," Pierce said.