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A death in restraints after ‘standard procedure’

Joshua Messier was having a schizophrenic attack, then died as Bridgewater state prison guards subdued him. The medical examiner called it homicide, then changed her mind. No one has been prosecuted, or even reprimanded, for the death of a young man in state care.

What happened at Bridgewater State Hospital, the state's prison for the mentally ill, on May 4, 2009:

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Joshua Messier's mother, Lisa Brown, visited him and worried that he was on the verge of another schizophrenic attack.
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Messier allegedly punched a guard during a psychotic attack in a staff break room. The guard punched Messier back and took him to the floor, as other guards joined the fray.
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Two guards pushed down hard on Messier's back as he sat in handcuffs and leg irons, a banned tactic known to cause suffocation. A medical examiner ruled his subsequent death a homicide.
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In the parking lot, Brown saw an ambulance. She said she felt certain it had come for her son.

SOURCES: Department of Correction; court documents; interviews

Patrick Garvin, Michael Rezendes/GLOBE STAFF

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