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Preliminary autopsy results released of Waukegan man that died in police custody

Police investigate after Avion Cotton, 31, of Waukegan, died after being taken into custody in the 600 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. in Waukegan on Thursday | Photo by Joe Shuman of J. Shuman Photography.

Avion Cotton died Thursday afternoon shortly after being arrested by Waukegan police following a foot pursuit and the coroner has released preliminary autopsy results.

Lake County Coroner Dr. Howard Cooper said that Cotton had no signs of physical trauma. Cotton had multiple white bags containing a rock-like substance in his stomach and esophagus, Cooper added. Toxicology test results are pending.

The Waukegan Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division responded to a home in the 600 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue around 3 p.m. Thursday to conduct a narcotics search warrant, the department said.

While police were at the home, they observed Cotton, who had an active arrest warrant, arrive at the residence. The 31-year-old Waukegan man exited his vehicle and began walking up to the home but ran from police when they approached him.

Waukegan Police Department Commander Joe Florip said that as Cotton fled on foot, he began eating an unknown white substance. The man fell while he was running and police tried taking him into custody, Florip said.

While being taken into custody, Cotton continued to chew the unknown white substance and refused commands from officers to spit it out, Florip said.

“The subject becomes physically distressed and the detectives called the Waukegan Fire Department,” Florip said in a statement. A Waukegan Fire Department ambulance transported the man to Vista Medical Center East where he was pronounced dead.

The Lake County Coroner’s Office responded to the hospital to begin their investigation and an autopsy was conducted Friday, according to Cooper.

Because this is considered an in-custody death, Waukegan Police Chief Wayne Walles requested the Illinois State Police to conduct an investigation, Florip said.

The investigation continues by the Lake County Coroner’s Office and the Illinois State Police.


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