A man who died in Maryland State Police custody suffered seizures before soldiers responded, the investigator says

BALTIMORE — A man who died in Maryland State Police custody suffered seizures for nearly 20 minutes before soldiers responded to help him, according to an investigation by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.

Armar Womack, a 64-year-old Delaware man, was arrested last January on suspicion of driving under the influence. Alone in a cell at MSP Centerville Barrack, Womack reportedly took cocaine just before suffering seizures and eventually dying.

In the 34-page report, investigators said the officers’ written descriptions of the incident could be seen as an understatement of Womack’s condition and an overstatement of the attention officers gave him.

The AG Bureau’s Independent Investigations Division is charged with investigating deaths involving law enforcement agencies in Maryland. The agency makes its findings available to prosecutors, who decide whether to press charges.

The Queen Anne’s County Attorney’s Office decided on December 7 not to pursue the case, about three weeks after the report was sent to them.

Police officers conducting a traffic stop on January 22, 2022 arrested Womack and charged him with possession of marijuana and cocaine. Authorities said he was conscious and responsive at the time of his arrest.

Investigators noted that Womack fell to the ground shortly after putting cocaine in his mouth, which he allegedly took almost immediately after being left alone.

Womack reportedly alternated between knocking on the cell door and lying on the floor for 18 minutes, suffering several seizures before “having a big seizure,” after which soldiers responded, calling for medics.

Soldiers said in written accounts of the incident that Womack was under video surveillance, but investigators found that a corporal assigned to monitor the cameras often stood with his back to the screen, checking his phone. A sergeant was supposed to check on Womack every 30 minutes but didn’t, the report said.

Investigators said the sergeant’s report “underestimates or omits several indicators of medical distress.” The sergeant reported that Womack said he was “fine” but a review of the video showed he was “yelling and gesturing with vigor.”

Investigators said in a phone call the night of the incident the sergeant told a lieutenant he dispatched officers to the cell within 30 seconds of Womack falling to the ground.

Another man who was brought into the cell reportedly told the soldiers that Womack needed Narcan, but he was told to keep quiet, the report said.

As Womack experienced the “major seizure,” a soldier opened the door and emergency services were called. It took 16 minutes for paramedics to arrive, but within five minutes of their arrival, it was revealed that Womack had stopped breathing, with no pulse. He was pronounced dead at a hospital about an hour later.

An autopsy revealed that Womack died from “cocaine intoxication complicating hypertensive cardiovascular disease.”


Leave a Comment