This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office has cleared Utah State Prison staff of any wrongdoing in connection with the death last fall of a 25-year-old inmate.
Christopher Lee Lucas died after a fight with another inmate, and his September death had been earlier ruled a homicide by the Utah State Medical Examiner's Office.
In breaking up the fight, Department of Corrections officers had deployed pepper spray, which an autopsy indicated may have been contributed a cardiac arrest suffered by Lucas.
DOC had noted earlier than the autopsy specifically found that while "the manner of death [was] homicide," the specific "cause of death [was] cardiopulmonary arrest following physical altercation and pepper spray exposure."
On Monday, Gill said his office's review determined Lucas' death was "not the result of unlawful means [used] by law enforcement personnel."
On Sept. 13, 2014, guards saw Lucas and another inmate fighting in a cell. After the inmates refused orders to stop, pepper spray was used on both men. As the officers were escorting Lucas out of the cell, however, he collapsed. Lucas was rushed to the hospital but later died.
The other inmate in the fight, 26-year-old Samuel Wise, was charged with homicide by assault, a third-degree felony. He remains in custody at the prison. Wise is scheduled for a Sept. 16 preliminary hearing in 3rd District Court.
Four DOC officers involved in the incident were placed on administrative leave, but returned to work after about two weeks following an initial investigation that determined the use of force to stop the assault was appropriate.
Lucas was serving a 1-to-15-year sentence for forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony, and had been at the prison since June 19, 2009.
During his time at the prison, Lucas had also been convicted of breaking a fire sprinkler head and assaulting and seriously injuring another prisoner in 2011.