Sledge Hammer Autopsy Reveals Neck Trauma

LOS ANGELES—The autopsy of porn performer Marlon Anderson, aka Sledge Hammer, has revealed new findings into the cause of his death after a struggle with police, the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office announced this week.

While the office left the manner of death as "undetermined" because it could not rule how his injuries were sustained, its findings list "neck compression" and "acute anoxic encephalopathy" as the final cause of death.

“His neck was injured almost certainly in the altercation with the multiple police officers—very likely leaning, pressing down on him, possibly his neck was hyper-extended,” pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht told “They compressed his neck either by direct pressure on his neck, or the neck may have been hyper-extended and so on. But since they use the word ‘compression,’ I would think they compressed by pressing down on his neck—whether they kneeled on him or sat on him, I can’t tell you that. But that’s what happened.”

The LAPD's Force Investigation Division is reviewing the April 8 incident in which six to eight officers subdued Anderson after being called to his home when his girlfriend rang 911 because the 39-year-old performer was threatening himself with a knife.

On the way to Northridge Hospital Medical Center in an ambulance and while handcuffed to a gurney to keep from harming himself, Anderson became agitated. When the police officer who was with him in the back of the ambulance could not control him backup was called and the officers could only subdue him "with sheer body weight and firm grips," LAPD spokesman Lt. Andrew Neiman told the Beast. They also Tased the porn actor twice to no effect.

Anderson suffered cardiac arrest, brain damage and fell into a coma, his girlfriend, performer Alexa Cruz, said. He died without regaining consciousness after his mother made the decision to remove him from life support.

“There are different scenarios that can lead to this neck injury,” Wecht said. “When you think of compression, choke-holding would be a form of compression. We don’t know enough about the situation to be able to determine that’s what happened. This may well be the most likely physical mechanism. There was some force upon the neck. I’m not saying it has to be a choke-hold 100 percent, but that is another possibility here.”

While the full autopsy report has not been made available, the coroner's preliminary findings did not include Anderson's toxicology results.