County Changes Rules for Transporting Prison Inmates
An autopsy is complete on the body of Felix Manus, but there is no ruling yet on his cause of death.
Manus is the 48-year-old work release inmate who died just days after suffering an asthma attack while cutting grass on work release duty in Edinboro.
After a three hour autopsy by forensic pathologist, Dr. Eric Vey, Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook said it will take microscopic study of samples taken from the organs of Mr. Manus before he can reach a ruling. "The cause and manner of death are pending other study on mostly microscopic slides," Coroner Cook said. "Consequently there's nothing we can see visually in a case like this, so we rely on microscopic slides...we don't believe toxicology had anything to do with this."
The Manus family wants answers and justice after they believe Felix was denied medical attention in time to address his medical emergency. They think he would have lived if corrections officials had called 911 or taken him to the hospital directly, instead of driving him back to the Erie County Prison Pre-release Center and calling an ambulance.
Late Wednesday, Erie County Director of Administration Gary Lee told Erie News Now that the county has reviewed its policy and procedures for transporting inmates and made some changes in the rules. While Lee would not elaborate for security reasons, he said the changes make the policy more clear and allow corrections officer latitude to make judgments at the scene. "We can't get into the specifics of it at this time, but certainly the county thought it was imperative to clarify expectations of corrections officers in the event an inmate may experience a medical emergency," said Lee.
At our request, county officials also clarified why the names of two corrections officers disciplined in connection with the incident, and the nature of that discipline has not been made public. Lee pointed to section 23.3 of the prison employees contract. They are members of SEIU Local 668 of the Pennsylvania Social Services Union. It says employers will discipline in such a manner so as to not embarrass an employee before the public, other employees, or prisoners.
Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri attended the autopsy in case his office determines that Erie County Detectives should be involved in the investigation.
Now that the autopsy is complete, the Manus family has made funeral arrangements. Duskas Funeral Home on Buffalo Road in Harborcreek is handling the arrangements for Felix Manus. Calling hours will be Friday from 2:00 to 4:00 and 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. The funeral is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. Saturday.