Police investigate death of man at Howard Co. Detention Center

June 09, 1998|By Del Quentin Wilber and Caitlin Francke | Del Quentin Wilber and Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

Parrish Michael Spinoso, hands cuffed behind his back, shuffled quietly from his Ellicott City apartment to a waiting police wagon Friday morning.

The skinny 22-year-old, arrested on charges of selling heroin to undercover Howard County detectives from his home, offered only one comment to a reporter observing the arrest: that he was a community college student.

Few details about Spinoso were known yesterday as authorities investigated how he died at the Howard County Detention Center, alone in his cell, 42 hours after being jailed Friday afternoon.

"We are investigating fully," Melanie C. Pereira, director of the Howard County Detention Center, said yesterday. She added that she hoped to have a preliminary report by early next week.

Spinoso's mother, and his roommates at his apartment in the 3200 block of Normandy Woods Drive, declined to comment yesterday.

Spinoso was arrested by police conducting a sweep of 20 alleged drug dealers in eastern Howard. Police said they bought heroin from Spinoso at his apartment during an eight-month investigation.

Wearing baggy jeans and a sweat shirt, Spinoso sat quietly near the back door of the wagon and waited for an officer to hand him a plastic bag containing his asthma medication.

An officer cut off the plastic handcuffs, and Spinoso began taking deep breaths from a variety of inhalers. It took him five minutes to finish.

Officers recuffed his hands in front of him in case he needed to use the inhalers. They told Spinoso to kick the wagon's walls if he needed help.

Police processed Spinoso quickly, said Howard County police Sgt. Morris Carroll, and officers delivered Spinoso's medication to the Detention Center.

"It did follow him there," said Carroll, a spokesman for the department.

Pereira, who said she was awaiting the medical examiner's report on the cause of death, said Spinoso was found dead by jail officers when they tried to wake him for breakfast at 6: 10 a.m. Sunday.

Pereira said she can't discuss whether he had his asthma medication with him in his cell until the investigation is complete.

Jail policy on prescription medication calls for the medical unit to examine any drugs when the inmate is processed. When the unit deems the medication admissible, the inmate is allowed to keep it, she said.

In April 1997, a man tried to hang himself at the Detention Center. The last person to die at the Detention Center hanged himself in December 1995.

"It's a sad loss," Pereira said. "It could be anything."

Pub Date: 6/09/98

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