Friday, June 25, 2021

Family of prisoner who died in Racine County Jail says death was homicide


The family of one of the men who died recently in the Racine County Jail says they have new information about how he died.

Malcolm James' family said they have never believed that the 27-year-old died June 1 of natural causes.

Now they have results from an independent autopsy they requested that they say proves otherwise.

Now they have results from an independent autopsy they requested that they say proves he was beaten and shocked with a Taser.

"This is a homicide. There's no question about it. This is homicide," attorney Kevin O'Connor said.

Police arrested James after he started a fire in his apartment.

His family said he suffered from mental illness, and while in jail, the Racine County Sheriff's Office said he repeatedly smashed his head on the cell wall, experienced a medical event that caused him to become unconscious and died.

O'Connor said a body diagram from the independent autopsy shows his injuries.

"They're saying he hit the front or back of his head, there's no mark, so their claims that he smashed his head or did something to his own head are completely and utterly false," the attorney said.

O'Connor said the unnamed pathologist in Milwaukee found multiple stun gun punctures, abrasions and lacerations, but no head injuries.

"Do you believe Malcolm died at the hands of jail staff?" WISN 12's Hillary Mintz asked the attorney.

"This is unquestionably that he died at the hands of jail staff," O'Connor said.

James and another prisoner died in jail, four days apart.

The Kenosha County Sheriff's Office is investigating both deaths to try to figure out what, if anything, could've been done differently.

Kenosha County told WISN 12 the investigation isn't done yet and would not respond to the new claim.

WISN 12 learned James' initial autopsy was done in Milwaukee County, but the Racine County medical examiner said they haven't definitively determined his cause of death and are still waiting on toxicology results.

His family said they will keep fighting for justice.

"He has a right to be safe at the hands of a police officer, sheriff or anyone else. We want justice we want someone to account for this young man having injuries like this," James' aunt said.

Racine sheriff's officials did not respond to WISN 12's calls Wednesday, but Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling released video of what he described as "video evidence of jail staff intervention of a violent inmate experiencing a mental health crisis."

He said a Taser was used.

In a previous statement, officials said the jail provided James medical care after hitting his head against the wall on two occasions.

The family wants state investigators to get involved.

The death of 22-year-old Ditello-Scott Jr., found dead in his cell a few hours after being arrested for drunken driving, is also under investigation.


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