Autopsy: Police officer died from fumes in April

September 22, 2011 5:25:20 AM PDT
Fumes from cleaning materials sprayed on a desk at a Chicago police station are blamed for the April death of Officer Kevin Robinson, according to a new report. Now the CPD has to determine what that means for Robinson's family.

Six months after his death, an autopsy determined Officer Robinson, 42, encountered a cleaning agent at his desk in the Morgan Park police headquarters. He was doing paperwork in March 2011 when he inhaled the fumes from an aerosol cleaning agent as a janitor cleaning the area.

Robinson complained about difficulty breathing and checked into Advocate Trinity Hospital. A few days later, he was released. A month after that, Robinson experienced a complete lung collapse and died at Advocate Trinity on April 4.

The original autopsy on April 6, 2011, was inconclusive and his death was ruled accidental. A just-released autopsy report reveals it was a pneumonia-like illness that killed him, and the medical examiner says it was an accident.

"I just felt it was so sad," said Parrish Griffith, Robinson's neighbor. "They said it was a heart attack, I was like wow. And I thought about my daddy, and thought you just got to take good care of life."

Robinson was a tactical squad officer with 15 years on the Chicago force. He shared two children, now teenagers, with ex-wife Camille Robinson of Plainfield. She was not home when we sought an interview, but spoke by phone with ABC7 earlier Wednesday. She said, "The fact that the police department is not making any comments at all or reaching out to the children is very saddening."

She says her ex-husband did not smoke, have asthma or pre-existing conditions. She said he was outside his home a lot and rarely got colds.

"He walked through, up and down the neighborhood, make sure everyone was OK, spoke to everyone, let everybody know he stays there," Griffith said.

A cardio-vascular specialist explained the autopsy to ABC7.

"What they have done is, an autopsy on this officer, and they've looked at the lung tissue, and they've looked at the architecture of the lung tissue and also the cells surrounding it and the changes in architecture. By going backwards from those findings, they can sometimes link it to the causative agent. That is really the clue they will be looking at in this case," said Dr. Paul Gordon, Advocate Christy Medical Center.

The Illinois Department of Labor is trying to determine if Robinson's death was in the line of police duty. If it was, his family would be eligible for significant financial awards -- and Officer Robinson's star would be retired alongside all the others that have made the ultimate sacrifice for Chicago.

Robinson was a 15-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department. The police department and police officers union are studying the report.

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