Edward Ware

Photo of a young man with dark skin and black hair; one of his eyes is turned outward. He is wearing a white T-shirt, and smiling for the camera.Name: Edward Ware.
Died: December 14, 2021.
Age at death: 36.
Cause of death: Restraint-related.
Location: Miami, Florida, USA.

Edward lived in a group home. While he was on the phone with his father, he said he wanted to leave. Staff restrained him, suffocating him, as Edward tried to apologize. Edward died in the hospital the next day.

The group home staff were charged with manslaughter.

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Eric Liao

Name: Eric Liao.
Died: September 9, 2021.
Age at death: 30.
Cause of death: Restraint-related.
Location: Omaha, Nebraska, USA.

Eric had a meltdown at a bowling alley and bit his caregiver. Staff at the bowling alley pinned him down and called police. Only when police had already handcuffed Eric did they notice he was unresponsive; and by then, it was too late. Eric was dead on arrival at the hospital.

Omaha man’s death being investigated as in-custody death
Omaha police investigate in-custody death
Omaha police investigating in-custody death at bowling alley

Xavier Hernandez

Photo: Teenage boy with brown skin and black hair in a buzz cut, wearing a white T-shirt and a pair of big headphones.Name: Xavier Hernandez.
Died: March 2, 2021.
Age at death: 21.
Cause of death: Chlorpromazine toxicity in the setting of physical restraint.
Location: Fort Worth, Texas, USA.

Xavier was fascinated with electronics and had a talent for working with computers. His aunt remembers him as “smart, energetic, funny.” He attended a special school because he “had high support needs”.

Xavier had no history of violence when seven staff restrained him. After holding him down for a while, they thought he had calmed down, but he was actually unresponsive. An ambulance was called and he was taken to the hospital. Hours later, he was declared dead.

Not long after that, a bystander took video of another student at the same school, a small fourth-grade girl, jumping a fence and being restrained by multiple adults. The girl’s mother was horrified; she had had no idea what her daughter had been enduring.  She spoke to her daughter, who confirmed that this was not an unusual incident–that she was routinely restrained, pushed down, slammed to the ground, and sat on. Her mother immediately moved the girl to online education, but other students are still attending the same school, which is still restraining the students.

Xavier’s parents are looking for answers and demanding justice.

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William Alcantara

Photo of a heavyset young man with dark hair and pale skin, smiling for the camera.Name: William Alcantara.
Died: December 10, 2020.
Age at death: 24.
Cause of death: Deep vein thrombosis.
Location: Chula Vista, California, USA.

William lived with his parents as a young adult. When he had to be taken to the emergency room, the state took him away from his parents and put him in a group home. His father believes this was because he had a habit of making waves–complaining about William not being scheduled for a dental appointment he needed, and later on in the group home, complaining that William was over-medicated so that he became tired but could not sleep.

At the group home, William began to lose weight. Originally a chubby young man, he became thin and his father worried he was going to starve to death. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, William and his parents were unable to visit, and even phone and video chat was becoming less available. William’s father told the county guardians about his son’s situation–how he was getting skinnier and more unhappy and unhealthy–but nothing was done.

William died from deep venous thrombosis, and on autopsy it was noted that his body was badly bruised. His death certificate calls his death “natural”, but his family believes he died from being forced to stay in one place all day, not allowed even to walk around. “The caregiver kept assaulting my son,” William’s father says, “punishing him to keep… calm.”

Deep vein thrombosis happens when a blood clot blocks a major blood vessel. The risk factors for DVT are old age, recent surgery, pregnancy, obesity, trauma, and inactivity. Of these risk factors, William had only two: Trauma (the bruising to his body) and inactivity (being forced to stay quiet in the same place all day, or perhaps restrained). DVT is a known risk factor of restraint or forced inactivity. Although DVT can happen without risk factors, the bruising to William’s body and the fact that this death was that of a young, otherwise healthy man makes it clear to me that there should be further investigation.

References: Father of son who died files negligence claim against San Diego County

Caleb Walker

Photo: A smiling, light-skinned, dark-haired man with a full beard.Name: Caleb Walker.
Died: January 25, 2020.
Age at death: 27.
Cause of death: Restraint-related (Positional asphyxia).
Location: Florida, USA.

Caleb was his parents’ youngest son, and he had been living at home with them; but Caleb’s parents were getting older and knew they couldn’t take care of him much longer. So they found a group home that specialized in autism, and Caleb moved there.

At the group home, staff restrained Caleb, putting pressure on his chest so that he could not breathe. His death was ruled a homicide by positional asphyxia, but no criminal charges were possible. His parents are, however, suing the facility.

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Family of autistic man who died in local group home announces wrongful death lawsuit