Baltimore police said Thursday they are investigating the death of a 19-year-old hospital patient who went into a coma after being struck with an officer's Taser during a struggle with police and security staff at Good Samaritan Hospital last week.
Officials said the teen, who was identified only as a "ward of the state," had been taken to the hospital for medical treatment the morning of May 6.
The next day about 5:30 p.m., police said, officers were called to the hospital in the 5600 block of Loch Raven Blvd. for a report that the teen was "experiencing an emotional crisis and was combative with staff," said Lt. Eric Kowalczyk, a police spokesman.
He said two officers responded and saw the teen struggling with five security guards, and one of the officers struck the teen with a Taser.
"The exact method of deployment and the number of times that that Taser was used are being investigated right now," Kowalczyk said.
Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said the patient was "breathing on his own" when the officers left the hospital.
"It was not learned [by police], and this is very preliminary, that the individual was in a coma and possibly brain dead until several days after this incident," Rodriguez said.
Police said the teen died Wednesday, and police learned of his death later in the day.
Kowalczyk said the patient had been given an "unknown" amount of medication before officers arrived and while they were there. Police said they were investigating all the circumstances surrounding the incident.
The officers were not identified. Rodriguez said police were conducting a criminal and administrative investigation, and said the officers would be interviewed last. Their status with the department was unknown.
Attempts to reach representatives of Good Samaritan Hospital were not immediately successful.
It was not clear why the patient was considered a ward of the state, though in Maryland young people can be wards of the state until age 21. Rodriguez said he was initially taken to the hospital by the "home" he lived in, but it wasn't clear whether that was a foster care or group home.
Baltimore Sun reporter Justin George contributed to this article.