- Associated Press - Friday, April 25, 2014

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - Police are investigating the death of a Chattanooga toddler as a homicide after an autopsy report found that a pain patch caused his death.

Chattanooga Police spokesman Tim McFarland told the Times Free Press (https://bit.ly/1lOcJiB) that officers are working with the medical examiner’s office and the district attorney’s office as they investigate the death of Demarcus Bryant, who was almost 2.

An autopsy report completed Saturday found that Bryant died on March 22 due to a 25-microgram fentanyl patch. The report listed the manner of death as homicide because the patch had been placed on the boy’s back “by someone else.”

The report states the child’s aunt found him dead in a playpen and called authorities. The report doesn’t name the aunt or the boy’s parents.

A physician at Highland Pediatrics told the newspaper that fentanyl can be used to treat children, but is usually reserved for cases of extreme pain.

“It’s just like any other pain medicine,” Dr. Allen Coffman said. “It’s a narcotic and the patches are slow release, so we use that in chronic, contractible pain. The most common instances would be in children who have cancer - specifically bone cancers that can be very painful.”

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Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, https://www.timesfreepress.com

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