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Medical examiner says inmate died of heart disease, not COVID

An autopsy report reveals Leroy Taylor, 71, who was found dead in Denver’s jail in February died of heart disease. His attorney and family claimed he had COVID.

DENVER — Two days before he died, a defense attorney for Leroy Taylor tried to get him out of jail because he was suffering from COVID symptoms, according to court records. 

Deputy Public Defender Alexandra Douglas filed the emergency motion on Feb. 7, asking for him to be released early, “Although Mr. Taylor had been released from the hospital to the Downtown Detention Center, Mr. Taylor continued to experience extraordinary difficulty breathing, among other symptoms.”

Taylor was found dead in the jail on Feb. 9. 

An autopsy report concludes Taylor didn’t die of COVID, but of heart disease. The report also indicates the medical examiner conducted a test for COVID and the results came back negative. 

“With the information available to me at this time, the manner of death, in my opinion, is natural,” wrote Dr. Ian Puffenberger, a forensic pathologist. 

In the wake of Taylor’s death, his family claimed negligence and accused the jail of failing to provide proper medical care because Taylor’s breathing was labored. 

The sheriff’s department said through a spokesperson their investigation into the death is still active. 

“The Denver Sheriff Department offers our deepest sympathies to the family and loved ones of Mr. Leroy Taylor. We have received the Medical Examiner’s report and will include the findings in our open investigations and inquiries,” wrote Daria Serna, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department.  

“We are limited in what information we can share at this time and encourage patience as these processes continue,” Serna added. 

If you have any information on this story or would like to send a news tip, you can contact jeremy@9news.com

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