Arlington, VA

The Arlington branch of the NAACP is calling for an independent investigation into an inmate’s death inside the county jail last week.

The incident happened on the afternoon of Thursday, Oct. 1 at the Arlington County Detention Facility in Courthouse. Darryl Becton, 46, was found unconscious in his cell and later declared dead on scene by paramedics after resuscitation efforts failed.

Becton, a D.C. resident, was being held on an alleged probation violation following his conviction on a felony “unauthorized use of a motor vehicle” charge last year.

The death is being investigated by the Arlington County Police Department. A separate law enforcement entity — the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office — manages the jail, but the NAACP says a different agency, like Virginia State Police, should conduct the investigation.

“It has been reported that in Arlington there has now been at least three deaths in the past few years at this Detention Facility,” said NAACP branch president Julius Spain, Sr. “It is time to find out the reasons why. Transparency, accountability, and review are extremely critical. The public deserves to know.”

The NAACP sent the following letter to the county’s sheriff, acting police chief and other top officials, as well as members of the media.

Arlington Branch #7047 calls for a full AND independent investigation (to include policy, procedural, and criminal violations) into the death of Mr. Darryl Becton, 46, who died on October 1, 2020, after he was found unconscious in his cell at the Arlington County Detention Facility. Releasing the results of the investigation to the public immediately is paramount to promoting transparency and public trust in our community. The results of the autopsy by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determining the cause and manner of death should also be released to the public immediately.

Mr. Julius D. Spain, Sr., President of the branch stated, “Any death in the custody of law enforcement officials should require an independent investigation with full public disclosure. It has been reported that in Arlington there has now been at least three deaths in the past few years at this Detention Facility. It is time to find out the reasons why. Transparency, accountability, and review are extremely critical. The public deserves to know.”

Mr. Kent D. Carter, Vice President of the branch who serves as chair of the branch criminal justice committee added, “the Arlington Branch NAACP intends to push county leadership to include a review of ACPD/Sheriff Office collaboration and custody and detention policies as part of the work on the recently established police practices group.” Mr. Carter continued, “this death raises yet another area that we on the committee should be expected to analyze in order for our work to be meaningful.”

The deaths of inmates over the last few years in the local Detention Facility are overly concerning. The public needs to know what policies and procedures have been implemented to prevent inmate deaths.

Furthermore, while we understand Arlington County Police Department will investigate, we feel strongly that incidents of this nature should be investigated by an independent outside agency such as the Virginia State Police.

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