- The Washington Times - Friday, July 12, 2002

A Mount Rainier woman died in D.C. police custody early Wednesday morning after she fought with emergency medical service workers who had been called to help her.

Geneva McGowan, 56, of the 4300 block of Eastern Avenue was driving at 22nd and Varnum streets NE about 6:30 a.m. Wednesday when, police say, she got out of her car and began walking aimlessly through the street.

D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services personnel were called and discovered a woman "acting irrationally and combative," D.C. police spokesman Joe Gentile said. The woman was walking in traffic and speaking incomprehensibly.

He said it was not clear who had called 911, indicating it might have been Mrs. McGowan herself using a cellular telephone.

When Medic Unit 14 and Engine 17 arrived on the scene, they found the woman walking through traffic and talking to herself.

"By the time emergency medical services got there, she was acting combative," Sgt. Gentile said. When an emergency worker tried to help her, Mrs. McGowan struck the man in the face. Police were called.

According to fire department sources, the woman jumped on the hood of a moving vehicle and was thrown to the ground when the vehicle stopped suddenly.

"Emergency workers did a preliminary [examination] and couldn't find anything correctable by prehospital medical care," Sgt. Gentile said. "We subdued her, cuffed her and transported her to D.C. General."

As police arrived at the hospital, the woman complained of difficulty breathing, Sgt. Gentile said.

Officers rushed into the hospital to get Mrs. McGowan medical attention.

Sgt. Gentile said it was not clear whether she died in the squad car or inside the hospital, but she was declared dead soon after arrival.

He said police learned Mrs. McGowan was taking medications but could not elaborate on what they were.

The D.C. Medical Examiner's Office has not determined a cause of death, but is conducting toxicology tests to see if the medications were a factor in her death.

Sgt. Gentile said, following department policy, the officers who transported Mrs. McGowan have been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation of the incident.

The investigation is being conducted by the D.C. police Force Investigation Team.

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