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27-Year-Old Man Died From Cervical Fracture in County Jail

Autopsy Reveals Cause of Death For David Yearby, an African-American Man From Plainfield Who Passed Away on November 2
David Yearby
David Yearby

NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ—On March 13, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey announced the results of an autopsy on a 27-year old Piscataway High School graduate who died in the county jail.

David Yearby's cause of death was “blunt force trauma to the head and neck,” according the prosecutor’s office press release

According to Yearby’s relatives, David, a detainee at the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Facility, was pulled out of his cell, restrained to a chair and died of a cervical fracture to the spine.

"I don't agree with the findings," his father Terrence Rhodes told NJ.com.

"You're telling me that you don't know when my son sustained a cervical fracture, but he is still up and fighting corrections officers before they place him into the restraints? That doesn't make any sense."

Yearby died on November 2, just two days after being taken into custody at the North Brunswick facility.

He was arrested on October 31 and accused of assaulting two Piscataway police officers and was subsequently restrained to a chair by corrections officers.

The press release also mentioned that Yearby was charged with, “resisting arrest and obstruction of the administration of justice after he punched a 16-year old boy and then punched a police officer when she arrived on the scene.”

MyCentralJersey.com reported that, according to Piscataway Police Capt. Scott Cartwell, the boy was simply outdoors working on Halloween decorations when Yearby allegedly went up to him, said “nice job” and punched him in the face.

The teen fled to a neighbor’s house where the police were called.  It is alleged that Yearby walked away from the scene when police came and started to struggle with them. It is not clear yet if Yearby and the teen knew each other.

He was imprisoned and his bail set at $100,000.

"He [David Yearby] walked into Middlesex County jail and was carried out with a broken neck," Gregg Zeff, attorney for Yearby family, told NJ.com's Vernal Coleman.

After graduating from high school in 2005, Yearby started classes at Long Island University and after six months, transferred over to Cheyney University in Pennsylvania. Cheyney is a historically African-American university.

While at Cheyney, Yearby was arrested for an altercation with two campus police officers and subsequently found guilty of aggravated assault by Delaware County, Pennsylvania in 2009.

A county spokeswoman told NJ.com he was sentenced to probation in that case.

Yearby was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder and hospitalized around this time.

Neither Terrence Rhodes nor Yeaby's mother, Veronica Yearby, could say for certain whether their son’s medical issues contributed to his arrest on October 31.