Everett Palmer Jr. was supposed to make a stop in Pennsylvania on his way from Delaware to New York to clear up an outstanding DUI warrant. Days later, the sick mother he was going to visit, and the brother he called before embarking on his trip, still hadn’t seen the U.S. Army Veteran. What they found out instead is that he died in police custody, and more than a year later, the family continues to search for answers.
Palmer entered York County prison on April 9, 2018. That’s the extent of what his family knows for sure. A cause of death has not been determined, and as reported by CNN, when the body was returned, Palmer was missing several vital organs, including his throat, heart, and brain. Family attorney S. Lee Merritt believes the entire case reads like a “cover-up.”
There was “so much mystery and unanswered questions in a way that violates every policy and procedure the state has,” Merritt, told The Washington Post. The civil rights attorney, along with the family, also believes that the organs have been misplaced. They claim to have only been notified of the missing parts after hiring an independent forensic pathologist to examine the body.
York County’s coroner’s office has a different take. “We were in communications with them directly and through their attorney,” York County Coroner Pam Gay told CNN of her office’s transparency with the family about where Palmer’s organs are, and why they were retained. “I understand their need and desire for answers. We are working to do that. The truth will come out.”
Though the coroner’s office says Palmer’s organs were held for additional testing, their refusal to turn them over more than a year later for the family to conduct its own investigation has left members frustrated. In addition, the story they were given about what transpired before his death sounds unlikely to those who loved him.
According to reports, an initial autopsy stated Palmer died “following an excited state” where he “began hitting his head against the inside of his cell door” and was restrained. The report links the events to “methamphetamine toxicity.” A probable “sickling red cell disorder” is listed as a contributing factor.
As far as the family knows, Palmer did not have health issues. They also believe that if meth was found in his body, it was given to him while in prison. “We don’t believe anything (officials) are telling us at this point,” Palmer’s brother Dwayne told CNN about where they stand more than a year later. “It’s a tremendous loss for our family. We are devastated.”
Merritt is calling on officials in York County to release video from the prison and to conduct a thorough investigation that may include looking into physical contact between Palmer and officers. He added, “We want what everybody would want in this situation, which is just justice for the family.”