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OFFICER’S COCAINE DEATH SHOCKS POLICE

By Alfa, Mar 22, 2004 | |
  1. Alfa
    OFFICER'S COCAINE DEATH SHOCKS POLICE FORCE

    MUSKOGEE -- Police officials are stunned that a veteran officer died
    from pneumonia caused by cocaine use and vowed to find the person who
    sold the drug to him. Stephen Wesley Caywood died from pneumonia
    caused by the toxic effects of cocaine, according to an Oklahoma State
    Medical Examiner's report.

    Caywood, 45, was found dead in his bed by his wife on Jan. 2, Muskogee
    Police Sgt. Michael Mahan said Tuesday.

    "Gross evidence of pneumonia" was found during the autopsy, the report
    states. Toxicology screening "reveals the presence of cocaine in blood
    and brain as well as a significant level of its (cocaine's) primary
    metabolite. The manner of death is accident," the report states.

    "We're just absolutely devastated by this," Police Chief Rex Eskridge
    said. "It's just something that caught us totally off guard."

    Caywood, a 17-year Muskogee Police veteran, was a graduate of the FBI
    National Academy and the FBI Hostage Negotiation and Hostage Rescue
    School.

    Eskridge said Caywood, who had just been promoted to major in
    December, had been under a lot of stress just before his death.

    "The promotion was stressful for him," Eskridge said. "I think there
    were family issues. He'd been on nights so long."

    Eskridge said the department may consider periodically re-evaluating
    police officers, their stress-related issues, and drug or alcohol problems.

    He said if Caywood did die of a drug abuse problem, an investigation
    will follow.

    "We want the public to know this has had a strong impact on our
    department," Eskridge said. "We want whoever got him that stuff to
    know that. We're going to find out where he got that stuff from."

    Diphenhydramine, an antihistamine, also was found in the blood in his
    heart, according to the report.

    Eskridge said besides periodically re-evaluating police officers,
    officials also will look at police policies.

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