Man in Iowa institution killed by restraint
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 11, 2001
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion
Daily Express Email News Service.
WOODWARD, IOWA--Larry Tielebein was killed.
The official finding by the state's medical examiner is that the 45-year-old
man, who had mental retardation and cerebral palsy, died from "compression
or positional asphyxia".
In other words, he suffocated to death.
Tielebein suffocated to death on March 18 while staff members restrained him
on a kitchen floor at Woodward Resource Center, a state-operated institution
housing 270 people with mental retardation.
And even though Tielebein's death is officially listed as a homicide, no
charges have been filed.
Investigators say that on the day of his death Tielebein began kicking,
hitting and spitting at staff members. Several responded by putting
Tielebein into a device that held his wrists to a waist belt. They then held
him facedown on the floor for at least 15 minutes.
According to the official reports, the staff refused to release Tielebein
even though he began sobbing and repeatedly said he was sorry. It was only
at the point where one staff member noticed that Tielebein's skin was
turning dark blue that they turned him over and tried unsuccessfully to
The Des Moines Register reported today that the institution has now been
cited for more than two dozen violations related to restraints. Included in
those citations is the finding that the staff ignored the program that had
been devised for Tielebein, who had lived at the facility for 25 years. That
program instructed the staff to discontinue the use of restraints when
Tielebein was "calm" - which the facility defined as when he "says he's
sorry, stops spitting, uses a quiet voice and (is) able to have regular
topics of conversation."
In spite of those reports Woodward superintendent Dr. Michael Davis told the
paper that the violations were only related to documentation problems.
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is continuing to investigate the
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