Man being held on drug charges hangs himself He's first to commit suicide in county police custody in several years

December 08, 1998|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

A 24-year-old Glen Burnie man who had been arrested and charged with intent to distribute crack cocaine committed suicide in a county police holding cell Sunday, hanging himself with the cord from his hooded sweat shirt, a police spokesman said.

It was the first suicide of a person in police custody in the county in several years.

Police would not identify the man yesterday, pending notification of his family.

Shortly before midnight Saturday, a police officer saw a man drinking beer near Dietrich's Tavern in the 7300 block of Furnace Branch Road, said Lt. Jeffrey A. Kelly. When the officer approached him, the man dropped the beer and a small package and started to walk away, Kelly said.

The package contained what appeared to be seven individually wrapped quantities of crack cocaine, Kelly said.

The man was taken to the Northern District Station on Hammonds Lane in Brooklyn Park and booked on charges of possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession with intent to distribute and consumption of alcohol on the lot of a liquor establishment.

Sunday morning, the man appeared before the Glen Burnie District Court commissioner, who returned him to the Northern District Station after finding that the officer who had arrested the man had not signed the charging document. The man arrived at the station at 12: 30 p.m., and the booking officer, who takes fingerprints and mug shots, checked on him in the station's cellblock at 1 p.m. and found nothing unusual, Kelly said.

When a police officer checked on the cellblock, where another person was in a cell, the officer found the man hanging from the bars and a protective mesh screen. The mesh screen was installed inside cells in the Northern, Western and Southern districts in an effort to prevent prisoners from hanging themselves from the bars, Kelly said.

Police officers performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and Anne Arundel County EMS-Fire Rescue personnel also tried to revive the man. He was taken to the medical examiner's office for an autopsy.

Officers in the criminal investigation division are investigating the death, and officials with the staff inspection division will conduct an administrative investigation to determine whether officers followed procedures, Kelly said.

Several people have killed themselves in their homes during standoffs with police in the county, but no one has killed himself while in police custody since March 1994, when an Anne Arundel County Detention Center inmate hanged himself from the bars on a cell door with the cord from a laundry bag.

Pub Date: 12/08/98

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