Teen’s death at Philly special-needs school ruled homicide

The death of a 17-year-old boy at a private Philadelphia school for children with special needs has been ruled a homicide.

The state Department of Human Services has said student David Hess was restrained and punched by staffers at Wordsworth Academy in October after he was suspected of stealing an iPod and became aggressive.

The department’s report of the incident said witnesses heard the teen gasping and saying “Get off me. I can’t breathe.” The boy died shortly thereafter.

The city medical examiner told the Philadelphia Inquirer the boy’s death was ruled a homicide Friday. An autopsy found Hess, of Lebanon, died of lack of oxygen.

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No one has been charged.

The city district attorney’s office declined comment, saying the case is under investigation.

State officials closed the facility days after the teen’s death.

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