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April 17, 2014 7:46 am

No charges will be filed in NWC student’s death

Written by CJ Baker

Prosecutors say no criminal charges will be filed in connection with a Northwest College student’s fatal fall from a Denver hotel balcony last month.

International exchange student Levy Thamba, 19, jumped from a downtown Holiday Inn’s fourth floor balcony and died early on the morning of March 11.

Thamba had been on a spring break trip with three fellow students from Northwest College and reportedly began acting erratically after consuming a marijuana cookie a few hours before the incident.

Thamba was a native of the Republic of Congo. He started taking classes at Northwest College in January. College officials have described Thamba’s loss as a tragedy and have expressed sympathy to his family.

The Denver Office of the Medical Examiner concluded in an autopsy report released April 2 that Thamba’s death was an accident and listed “marijuana intoxication” as a contributing factor.

A report released Wednesday by the Denver Police Department says the local district attorney’s office determined last week that it will not file criminal charges against the 23-year-old student who bought the cookie and gave it to Thamba. Colorado has legalized marijuana for individuals 21 and older and the city of Denver has decriminalized marijuana possession for those between 18 and 21 years old.

The 23-year-old woman reportedly bought four Sweet Grass Kitchen lemon poppy seed marijuana cookies at a Denver mall on the afternoon of March 10; she and another student actually went into the store while Thamba and another student waited outside, the report says.

The four NWC students ate parts of the cookies while watching a horror movie in their Holiday Inn hotel room late that night.

They’d been told by staff at the store, Native Roots Apothecary, to split the cookies into six pieces and eat only one piece at a time. Thamba initially said he didn’t feel anything after eating a piece and ate the rest of the cookie in a short period of time, according to what the other students told police,

Some time later, Thamba began shivering and shaking in bed, woke up and began acting strangely,  including screaming and yelling in French that the other students didn’t understand, the report says.

At one point, Thamba reportedly grabbed a lamp and appeared to talk to it before pulling it out of the wall; he slammed a night stand to the ground, the report says.

One student recalled Thamba saying at some point that, “This is a sign from God that this has happened, that I can’t control myself. It’s not because of the weed.”

The students said they tried to calm Thamba, but he wouldn’t stay in bed and continued to act erratically. When Thamba tried to leave the room, the other young man on the trip tried to stop him, but couldn’t, the report says.

Thamba then ran into the hallway and jumped over the railing overlooking the hotel’s indoor atrium. In addition to the other male NWC student, two other people witnessed the fatal fall.

A Denver police detective asked one of the students why Thamba had jumped and “she had no explanation,” the report says.

An intoxicating level of marijuana was the only substance found in Thamba’s system, the autopsy found.

When questioned by police after the incident, the three other students did not appear to be under the influence of any substances, the police report says. The other young man on the trip did say he had become sick to his stomach after apparently eating too much of his cookie.

Following the incident, Native Roots Apothecary staff voluntarily gave police all their remaining Sweet Grass marijuana cookies. Testing of the cookies showed that the levels of THC — the intoxicating substance in marijuana — were within required limits, the report says.

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