weigh homicide charges in suffocation
have been filed after a 7-year-old died from
lack of air after she was placed in a restraint.
June 10, 2006
RICE LAKE, Wis.
- The counseling center involved in
the suffocation death of a 7-year-old patient
has been told that it cannot use control holds
on patients unless the situation is "so
dangerous that police must be called," a
spokeswoman for state regulators said Friday.
The Department of
Health and Family Services gave the order to
Northwest Counseling and Guidance Clinic in Rice
Lake as the agency continued its investigation
into an incident last month that led to the
girl's death, spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis
issued June 2, essentially bans the use of
control holds in all but extreme emergencies at
the counseling center, Marquis said.
prosecutors were weighing whether to consider
the death of Angellika Arndt a criminal
Arndt died from
complications of chest compression, which caused
lack of air from a restraint hold she was placed
in by staff members, Barron County District
Attorney Angela Holmstrom said.
the manner of death -- that it was caused by
another person -- makes the case a homicide. But
she said it's not clear whether the facts meet
the criminal definition of homicide.
No charges were
filed Friday, a spokeswoman in Holmstrom's
The girl, a
resident of Rusk County, died May 26 at
Children's Hospital & Clinics of Minnesota in
Minneapolis, a day after police were called to
the Northwest Counseling and Guidance Clinic on
a report that she was unresponsive.
Arndt was a
patient at the clinic and had been restrained by
staff members for behavioral issues, police
executive director of the National Association
for the Mentally Ill-Wisconsin, said she was
stunned at the medical examiner's ruling in
"No matter what a
child's behavior is, I can't imagine holding
them down to the point of suffocating them,"
Wrenn said. "It's a horrible tragedy. It's
unbelievable. Someone needs to be held
Wrenn said that
her organization's policy is to use the least
restrictive force as possible.
president of the clinic's board of directors,
has said a review of the incident determined the
staff, which is trained and licensed, followed
proper procedures for the control hold, which he
said is only used if a child is in danger of
causing harm to him or herself or another
Tucker said the
girl was held on her stomach on the floor as one
staff member gripped her ankles and another held
down her shoulders, she calmed down, was
released and then passed out.
A parent or
guardian must sign a consent form for the hold
to be used, Tucker said.
"We stand behind
our staff," Tucker said Friday. "We know them to
be competent professionals and outstanding
mental health providers."
investigators to look into other medical
complications that could have contributed to the
girl's death, including her medications. Tucker
said his clinic does not prescribe or administer
she and police investigators met with the
Hennepin County medical examiner on Thursday.
examiner ruled the girl died from complications
of chest compression asphyxia and also suffered
cardiopulmonary arrest, the medical report said.