Disabled Woman Dies After Being Restrained By Boston Police; State And Police Investigating

Sunday, March 18th 2007, 2:33 pm
By: News On 6

BOSTON (AP) -- State and local officials are investigating the death of a developmentally disabled woman who was restrained by police officers at the group home where she lived, authorities said Sunday.

Brenda Ellison, 42, appeared to go into cardiac arrest as she was restrained, according to police. She was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Officers went to the home Friday night after receiving a report of a "woman out of control," police said. Health care providers told police they had unsuccessfully attempted to restrain Ellison after she become violent.

When Ellison became increasingly hostile, officers restrained her, police said.

Police spokeswoman Sharon Dottin did not identify the officers involved or the restraint technique used. The medical examiner's office has not released a cause of death, she said Sunday.

JudyAnn Bigby, secretary of the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services, said Ellison's death was being investigated by her department, Boston police and Vinfen, the nonprofit operator of the group home.

Bigby said the Disabled Persons Protection Commission -- a three-member panel appointed by the governor -- also would investigate. The death is being probed by the police's homicide unit and by internal affairs.

The group home in Boston's Brighton neighborhood houses four residents and Vinfen operates it under contract with the state. Two staff members were on duty at the time of the incident, said Bruce Bird, Vinfen's chief operating officer.