BANGOR, Maine — Officials from the Bangor Police Department and Eastern Maine Medical Center both said Friday that they are conducting internal investigations into the circumstances surrounding the death of a 28-year-old Bangor man who died while in police custody.
Phillip McCue, who had a history of mental illness and drug use, reportedly was shocked with a stun gun by a Bangor police officer last week and later died at EMMC after having two heart attacks, family members said Thursday.
McCue’s death now is under investigation by the Maine attorney general’s office, Brenda Kielty, a special assistant in the attorney general’s office, confirmed Thursday.
In an interview on Thursday, McCue’s stepmother, Patty McCue of Jackson, said McCue was taken to EMMC after a confrontation Sept. 12 with a Bangor police officer and remained there in a coma and alone until she and his father, Michael McCue, learned two days later that he might have been arrested and started looking for him.
After calling Bangor police, the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office and The Acadia Hospital, where Phillip McCue had been treated for his mental illness in the past, Michael McCue placed a call to EMMC and was told his son had suffered cardiac arrest and was in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
McCue’s father and stepmother said the state medical examiner’s office told them a Bangor police officer had stunned McCue with a Taser.
Even though his father was listed as his next of kin in his hospital file, the family wasn’t contacted, Patty McCue said.
Phillip McCue, who had no known heart problems but was a recreational drug user, according to his family, had a second heart attack Monday and died at the hospital. Family members said McCue had recently been hanging out with a known user of the synthetic drug bath salts, and possibly was using the drug himself.
In a statement issued Friday, Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said the incident “remains under internal review.”
“We have notified and remain in contact with the office of the attorney general,” Edwards said. “The attorney general’s office has indicated that they are conducting an investigation into this matter which we will fully cooperate with.”
“The Bangor Police Department expresses its condolences to the family of Phillip McCue,” Edwards added. Edwards did not return several messages seeking further information Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, EMMC’s new chief nursing officer said the hospital is conducting an investigation of its own to determine why McCue’s family members were not notified.
“It’s a tragedy when any patient in our hospital dies,” Jodi Galli told reporters during a news conference Friday afternoon at the hospital. “We’d like to let the family know that we extend our sincere condolences and our prayers for their loss.”
“It is EMMC’s responsibility to ask each and every one of our patients on admission if there’s a family member that they would like us to notify, and if a patient isn’t able to give that information, it’s our responsibility to do our best to locate a family member to notify them of their loved one’s admission into the hospital,” said Galli, who joined the hospital’s staff three weeks ago.
“Unfortunately we regret to say that in this case, that did not happen and we’re currently investigating to find out why,” she said.
Galli declined to answer questions about the investigation and what steps, if any, EMMC staff took to locate McCue’s family members.
McCue’s body was taken to the state medical examiner’s office in Augusta for an autopsy. The cause of McCue’s death is pending the results of toxicology tests, Mark Belserene of the medical examiner’s office said Thursday.
The McCues said they have asked the police department for a copy of the police report and hired a private investigator, but were told they will have to wait until after the investigation is completed.
Phillip McCue is survived by a 4-year-old son. His funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Unity Centre for the Performing Arts, 42 Depot St., Unity. Afterward, he will be buried at Center Cemetery in East Thorndike.
BDN writer Nok-Noi Ricker contributed to this report.