Autopsy: Fumes Killed Chicago, Ill. Police Officer

September 23, 2011

The death of a Chicago police officer who accidentally inhaled noxious fumes from a cleaning product sprayed at work is under investigation after a new autopsy report was released this week.

The Illinois Department of Labor has opened an investigation into the death under the state’s occupational safety and health plan for public employees, said spokeswoman Anjali Julka.

In addition, the Chicago Police Department and the police officers’ union are both studying the autopsy report, released five months after the 42-year-old officer’s death.

Officer Kevin Robinson died of a pneumonia-like illness, the Cook County medical examiner’s report said. The medical examiner’s office ruled the death an accident.

The chemicals in the cleaning product aren’t known. The medical examiner’s office said the product was sprayed on Robinson’s police station desk by a janitor weeks before his death April 4. He was treated for breathing problems at a hospital and released, but was readmitted when his problems continued.

Robinson’s mother, Seretha Robinson, said her son was healthy and had no respiratory problems before he died.

She said the fumes he inhaled all but forced his lungs to shut down before doctors placed him in a medically induced coma weeks before his death. While she’s been told her son’s death was ruled an accident, neither she nor other family members have been given detailed information about the cleaning product, she said.

Police spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said the department is reviewing the autopsy report. Pat Camden, spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police, said the union is reviewing the case.

Robinson was a tactical officer on the city’s Southwest Side who had been with the department for 15 years. His former wife, Camille Robinson, said he never smoked or had lung problems in the past. The couple has two children.

“People have colds,” Camille Robinson told the Chicago Tribune. “It was never anything that would break him down where he couldn’t breathe or have to go to the hospital.”

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