Upstate murder suspect dies after scuffle with deputies

10/01/2013 6:43 PM

03/14/2015 2:32 AM

An autopsy on a murder suspect who died Tuesday after scuffling with deputies two days earlier “showed evidence of an altercation” from when he was being taken into custody, but “no significant injuries or trauma,” according to Greenville County Coroner Parks Evans.

Lab tests, including toxicology tests, will have to be completed to determine the cause of death of 32-year-old Larry Steve Howard II of 2850 Highway 357, Lyman, although the coroner said he went into cardiac arrest while he was being checked by EMS at the scene.

Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins said the State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the death. Once the agency is finished, his office will review the case to determine if the deputies handled the incident appropriately, he said.

“At this point, we don’t have any indication there was any officer misconduct,” Wilkins told The Greenville News.

Howard had convictions for drug possession and violating a city ordinance, according to SLED records. The records also show arrests in 2011 and 2012 on drug, weapon and other charges.

A SLED spokesman couldn’t be reached Tuesday.

Master Deputy Jonathan Smith said the Sheriff’s Office is treating the case as an officer-involved death and won’t release details of the arrest until the investigations are complete.

“We’ll do our own internal investigation and make sure all policies were followed,” he said.

Smith said Sheriff Steve Loftis was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

Howard had been arrested Sunday afternoon in the shooting death of Tracie Lynn Gilbert, 31, of 51 Pleasant Retreat Road, Travelers Rest, authorities said. He died at 2:15 a.m. Tuesday at Greenville Memorial Hospital, according to Evans.

A warrant charging Howard with murder was issued late Monday, after he had been taken to intensive care.

Gilbert, who authorities said knew Howard, was found dead with a gunshot wound to her head Sunday afternoon. Evans ruled her death a homicide.

When deputies arrived at the home where Gilbert lived with her father, they found a man hiding under a bed, said Deputy Drew Pinciaro, a Greenville County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

At one point, the man grabbed a deputy’s shotgun and tried to take it, Pinciaro said.

Deputies freed the shotgun from the man’s grip, but he resisted arrest and fought with deputies, Pinciaro said.

The man was handcuffed after a struggle and taken outside to EMS workers and lost consciousness, Pinciaro said.

Asked if the man had been injured during the arrest, Pinciaro said, “Not that we are aware.” No shots were fired, and deputies weren’t injured, he said.

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