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(Updated at 2:50 p.m.) Arlington County police are investigating after two people were found dead in a hotel room this afternoon.

Initial reports suggest that police were called after a guest failed to check out on time at the Inns of Virginia hotel, at 3335 Langston Blvd, and officers then found a man and a woman unresponsive in their room. Medics pronounced them dead on the scene.

Police are now trying to determine what happened, but so far there is no indication that the deaths are being considered suspicious.

“ACPD is conducting a death investigation in the 3300 block of Langston Boulevard,” police spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed to ARLnow. “At approximately 12:33 p.m., police were dispatched and located an adult male and female deceased inside a hotel room. Based on the preliminary investigation, the deaths do not appear suspicious and there is no apparent ongoing threat to the public. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine cause and manner of death.”

Arlington County has seen an elevated level of opioid overdoses over the past few years.

In August 2020, two people were found dead of a suspected overdose in the Buckingham neighborhood. Then, in December 2021, two people were found dead in Ashton Heights of “narcotics-related” causes.

Arlington County police are investigating the death of a man found unresponsive in a park along Columbia Pike.

Police were called around 10 p.m. Friday night for a man lying on the ground and not moving near the intersection of Columbia Pike and Four Mile Run Drive, which is also in proximity to the bike trail.

The man, who was in cardiac arrest and not breathing, was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

While a cause of death has not been released, police are calling the man’s death suspicious. A helicopter was called in from a nearby police agency to search the area, along with officers on the ground.

No arrests have been announced and police are asking the public for additional information about the case.

More from ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating a suspicious death which occurred on the evening of December 9, 2022.

At approximately 10:03 p.m., police were dispatched to Columbia Pike at S. Four Mile Run Drive for the report of trouble unknown. Upon arrival, officers located an unresponsive adult male in the park. Medics performed lifesaving measures before transferring him to an area hospital where he was pronounced deceased. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine cause and manner of death.

The circumstances that preceded the death remain under investigation. Anyone with information that may assist with the investigation is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

The family of Darryl Becton with Arlington NAACP President Julius “JD” Spain, Sr. (staff photo)

A man who was charged in connection to the death of Darryl Becton in Arlington County jail in 2020 has been found not guilty.

Antoine Smith was charged in September 2021 with the misdemeanor of falsifying a patient record.

Smith worked for Corizon Correctional Health, the jail-based medical provider at the time of Becton’s death, which has been sued multiple times across the nation for inmate deaths allegedly connected to inadequate care.

When reached by phone, Smith’s attorney declined to comment on the outcome of the case.

The charge was levied against Smith as part of a year-long investigation into the circumstances surrounding Becton’s death at the Arlington County Detention Facility.

In the wake of his death, the Arlington branch of the NAACP called for an independent investigation. The jail, meanwhile, cut ties with Corizon and updated its protocols.

One month later, Becton’s family filed a $10-million wrongful death lawsuit against Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur, the elected official who oversees the jail and the Sheriff’s Office, as well as Corizon and four medical staffers, including Smith.

The suit alleges that medical staff did not treat and properly monitor Becton’s drug withdrawal symptoms or high blood pressure, despite being aware of his condition and the risks associated with it.

The lawyer for the case did not return a request for comment on how the not-guilty verdict for Smith impacts the lawsuit.

Becton was the fifth person — and the fourth Black man — to die in the facility while in custody in five years, according to the Arlington branch of the NAACP. Since then, the number of people who have died in the detention facility has risen to seven, prompting the Arlington County Board to pledge greater oversight over how the jail is managed.

For the NAACP, the charges against Smith were never its focus.

“Even had Mr. Smith been found guilty of that charge, it would not have answered the central question: why did Mr. Becton die?” Arlington NAACP President Julius “JD” Spain told ARLnow. “The NAACP remains committed to helping our entire community understand how this avoidable tragedy happened, so we can work together to ensure it never happens again.

“We will continue to advocate for a better public safety system that reduces the reliance on prisons as means of solving social problems, and advances effective law enforcement,” Spain continued.

The verdict does raise a host of questions about who supervises jail-based healthcare providers and their employees, and where was that supervisor when Becton died, Spain said.

“So, finally, why did it take this unnecessary and tragic death, seven in seven years, to ultimately cause the Sheriff’s office to find a new contractor?” Spain said. “To date, no one has been held accountable. Is it a toxic work environment, fear of retaliation, or improper management of personnel? Every day that passes without an answer, trust and confidence in leaders and the justice system erode.”

The jail has taken some corrective steps to improve its treatment of inmates, including hiring a quality assurance manager, planning to buy a new medical tracking device and updating health check protocols.

These actions led Virginia’s Jail Review Committee, part of the Board of Local and Regional Jails, to conclude that “no further measures are necessary” and close its investigation into the Arlington jail last month. Its investigation found evidence suggesting the jail had broken state regulations in Becton’s death, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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(Updated at 9:30 a.m.) Someone died in Lacey Woods Park, prompting a police investigation.

The park at 1200 N. George Mason Drive, west of Ballston, includes wooded trails, athletic fields and courts, and a popular playground. Police tape could be seen across the entrance to one of the trails.

Arlington County police tweeted just before 8 a.m. that “there is no known threat to the community related to this incident.” Police are still on scene investigating the circumstances of the person’s death.

ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow that “the death does not appear suspicious.”

“Cause and manner of death will be determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner,” she said.

Firefighters were dispatched to the park around 9:15 a.m. to assist with a cleanup at the scene.

(Updated at 10:20 p.m.) Arlington County police are conducting a death investigation after an apparent fall from a high-rise condo in Ballston.

Numerous police units could be seen Monday afternoon and evening around The Continental condo building at 851 N. Glebe Road, near the Westin hotel and the P.F. Chang’s restaurant. A photo sent by a reader shows a tent set up by police in an alley next to the building.

Police first responded to the scene shortly after 3:30 p.m. Initial reports suggest that someone had died and an investigation was underway on the ground and on the 17th floor of the building.

“ACPD is conducting a death investigation in the 800 block of N. Glebe Road,” police department spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed Monday night to ARLnow. “This appears to be an isolated incident and the preliminary investigation has not revealed an ongoing threat to the community. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine cause and manner of death.”

Savage also confirmed a report that someone had been led away in handcuffs, but said it was on a drug charge.

“An adult female was arrested on a narcotics charge,” she said. “Officers remain on scene investigating.”

No other details were immediately available. A resident of the building said they were kept in the dark about what exactly was happening.

“They are not telling residents anything,” the resident told ARLnow.

Darryl Becton’s aunt, Ramona Pugh, left, and sister Monique Ford, right (staff photo)

The Arlington County Detention Facility has implemented several measures in response to the death of an inmate in 2020.

The jail has hired a quality assurance manager, planned to buy a new medical tracking device and has updated health check protocols, according to a document that summarizes corrective measures it has taken.

A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Darryl Becton’s family alleges that medical staff at the Arlington lockup did not treat and properly monitor Becton’s drug withdrawal symptoms or high blood pressure, despite being aware of his condition and the risks associated with it.

The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office took a number of preventive measures following the death. One was a special directive to instruct staff to place all inmates self-reporting or expecting to experience withdrawals in the Medical Unit of the jail, according to the summary document obtained by ARLnow.

The office also hired a quality assurance manager in April, whose job is to oversee all contractors providing medical, food, phone and other services to people held in custody. Cristen Bowers is currently the manager, according to a press release.

The jail cut ties with its medical provider Corizon in October 2021 and signed a new contract with Mediko that was finalized in February.

Other actions taken include directing staff to check the vitals of those going through withdrawals every four hours instead of eight. The office is also planning to buy a medical device system that will “track heart rates and alert workstations” if an inmate’s heart rate is abnormal. The office plans to have the purchase funded in during the current fiscal year, which runs through next July.

These actions led Virginia’s Jail Review Committee, part of the Board of Local and Regional Jails, to conclude that “no further measures are necessary” and close its investigation into the Arlington jail last month. Its investigation has found evidence suggesting the Arlington jail had broken state regulations in Becton’s death, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

However, not all of the jail’s remedial actions were made public. Two policies made in the immediate aftermath of Becton’s death are redacted in the summary obtained by ARLnow, with the Sheriff’s Office stating disclosure “would jeopardize the safety or security” of law enforcement officers, the public and buildings.

The Times-Dispatch requested documents from the board related to the investigation and the corrected action plans but release of the action plans were denied, and other documents provided were redacted, according to the Times-Dispatch. The board’s executive director told the paper it wanted to “protect the ‘privacy’ of people who die in jails, and their families.”

In response, Becton’s family, who is suing the sheriff and Corizon, along with individual Sheriff’s Office and Corizon employees, called for the board to release the details of its decisions and the jail’s corrective action plan, according to a statement from NAACP’s Arlington branch.

By not publishing its suggestions for improvement with the public or “the larger jailed and incarceration community,” the board is “not allowing transparency in the process,” Becton family’s attorney Mark Krudys told ARLnow.

He says the family did not know about the content of the board’s investigation or the jail’s action plan.

The Becton family’s lawsuit has now moved to U.S. District Court upon a request from Sheriff Elizabeth Arthur and a deputy who was also sued, according to a docket report. In October 2021, a Corizon nurse was charged with falsifying patient records by the Commonwealth’s Attorney Office. The criminal case is still ongoing.

Despite the corrective actions, another Arlington jail inmate died in custody this past February. Of the seven people to have died in custody at the jail over the past seven years, six have been Black, according to the NAACP.

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Morning Notes

Man Convicted of Crystal City Shooting — “A convicted murderer has been found guilty on four charges for shooting and wounding his ex-girlfriend in her Arlington, Virginia, office in 2019. Mumeet Muhammad forced his way into the woman’s office, in the 1500 block of Crystal Drive in Crystal City, and shot the woman on Aug. 28, 2019. Muhammad also was shot by police.” [WTOP]

Body Found Near Roosevelt Island — “A death investigation was underway Wednesday after a body was found in the Potomac River, D.C. police said.  Authorities said the body was found in the water between Teddy Roosevelt Island and the Virginia shoreline under the footbridge pedestrians use to access the island… Officials with knowledge of the investigation said the body was heavily decomposed.” [NBC 4, Twitter]

GW Parkway Chase Leads to Lawsuit — “A D.C. police captain sued the District on Tuesday, alleging he was retaliated against after trying to stop a high-speed pursuit last month that ended with a car overturning on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, causing injuries and bringing rush-hour traffic to a halt.” [Washington Post]

Task Force: Expand County, School Boards — “Increasing the size of the Arlington County Board and School Board by at least two members is among the recommendations of the Arlington County Civic Federation’s task force on local governance, which on April 12 delivered the first of what are expected to be two sets of proposals to be voted on by the organization in June.” [Sun Gazette]

PSA: Steer Clear of River Near Chain Bridge — From D.C. Fire and EMS: “The river knows no boundaries. All this holds true for the District. One slip off the rocks can lead to a fall into a deceptively calm looking river actually laden with treacherous currents and hidden rocks that quickly pull you under. Especially the case around Chain Bridge.” [Twitter]

Lease Change Scores Big Bucks for County — “Arlington County Board members on that date voted 5-0 to support a change in technical aspects of the lease that guides the relationship between the county government, which owns substantial parcels in the Courthouse area, and the developer JBG Smith, which holds ground leases and owns the buildings on some of those very same parcels… By making the changes, which staff say carry little risk to the county government or taxpayers, the Arlington government coffers would receive somewhere in the area of $10 million to $12 million in a one-time payment from JBG Smith.” [Sun Gazette]

ARLnow Article Confuses Chicago Suburbanites — From the Arlington Heights (Ill.) Police Department: “The incident was reported by Virginia news outlets with the headline ‘Barricade situation in Arlington Heights.’ News reports were then shared on social media using the #ArlingtonHeights. We understand this created some confusion and concern for our residents. The Arlington Heights Police Department would like to clarify the above incident occurred in Arlington County, Virginia.” [Facebook]

It’s Thursday — Rain and storms in the afternoon and evening. Southwest wind 11 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph. High of 76 and low of 59. Sunrise at 6:34 am and sunset at 7:45 pm. [Weather.gov]

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(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) A person is dead after leaping from an upper floor of an apartment building on Columbia Pike, amid a federal law enforcement presence at the complex.

Arlington police and medics were dispatched to the Infinity Apartments at 955 S. Columbus Street shortly after 10 a.m. for a person who jumped from the building and was in cardiac arrest. Responders were told to expect plain clothed U.S. Marshals Service personnel on scene.

Initial reports suggest that the person jumped from the fifth floor of the building, was impaled on a fence, and is deceased. Police requested that a tarp be brought to the scene.

ACPD set up a command post and officers appeared to be taking equipment to and from the pool area of the complex. Personnel with “U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force” ballistic vests and a battering ram can be seen in the parking lot of the complex, which is located just south of Columbia Pike and the Arlington Mill Community Center.

In a press release about the incident Friday afternoon, Arlington police said that the person who died was a suspect in a robbery in Loudoun County. The Marshals Service and the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office “were attempting to serve an arrest warrant at the residence” when the person “attempted to exit the residence through a window and fell.”

The full press release is below.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is conducting a death investigation in the Columbia Forest neighborhood.

At approximately 10:02 a.m. on March 25, Arlington County Police and Fire were dispatched to the 900 block of S. Columbus Street for the report of cardiac arrest. Upon arrival, an adult male was located unresponsive outside of a residential building. Medics pronounced him deceased on scene. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine cause and manner of death.

The preliminary investigation indicates the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, consisting of members from the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshals Service, were attempting to serve an arrest warrant at the residence related to a robbery that occurred in Loudoun County, Virginia. Upon knocking and announcing themselves, the subject allegedly attempted to exit the residence through a window and fell.

The circumstances of the fall remain under investigation. Anyone with information that may assist with the investigation is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Morning Notes

Raindrops on a tree branch in Westover (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Beyer’s Statement on Ukraine — From Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) last night: “Praying for the Ukrainian people tonight. America stands with Ukraine.” [Twitter]

HQ2 Phase 1 to Feature 14 Retailers — “JBG Smith also revealed Tuesday that it has identified and executed leases with 14 retailers set to open by the end of 2023 at Metropolitan Park, though it didn’t identify those brands. That’s a jump from what the real estate company had announced in November during a tour of the HQ2 site, at that time noting plans for between seven to 12 retailers on the ground floor. Two of those retailers have been announced: District Dogs and Rāko Coffee Roasters.” [Washington Business Journal]

More Details on HS at HQ2 Phase 2 — “During a recent community meeting about the project, county staff said Amazon will provide 26,500 square feet of space for the school in one of its HQ2 office buildings at the PenPlace site. The plan calls for Amazon to construct the school’s space and to provide a rent-free lease to the county for a minimum of 30 years… ‘We’re being told it will be the fall of 2026,’ Thompson said when asked when Arlington Community High School would officially make the move to HQ2.” [WJLA]

Local James Beard Nominees — Two chefs with Arlington restaurants have been nominated for a prestigious James Beard Award. Peter Chang, of the eponymous restaurant in the Lee-Harrison shopping center, has been nominated for a national award for Outstanding Chef. Ruthie’s All-Day proprietor Matt Hill, meanwhile, has been nominated in the category of Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. [Eater, Washington Business Journal]

December Death Investigation Update — “The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled the manner of both deaths as accidental with cause being narcotics-related. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, help is available.” [Twitter, ACPD]

County Employee Vax Deadline Approaching — “County Manager Mark Schwartz said the number of employees who neither have gotten vaccinated, nor won an exemption, is down to a miniscule number (six, he said on Feb. 15). Ninety-six percent of permanent government employees have met the vaccination mandate, with 135 more receiving accommodations required under federal law.” [Sun Gazette]

Mask Guidance from APS Superintendent — “As communicated last week, families will be able to opt their students out of wearing a mask in school beginning next Tuesday, March 1, in accordance with the recently passed Virginia law, Senate Bill 739. As this new law takes effect, I ask everyone to practice patience and understanding for others with respect to mask choice. We are one community, unified by our shared commitment to student success, health and well-being.” [Arlington Public Schools]

It’s Thursday — Cloudy with a chance of sleet today. A chance of rain and snow in the morning, then rain likely in the afternoon. Little or no accumulation of frozen precipitation. A slight chance of sleet in the evening, plus rain and patchy fog. High of 44 and low of 32. Sunrise at 6:49 am and sunset at 5:57 pm. [Weather.gov]

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County Board member Matt de Ferranti on Saturday, Feb. 12 (via Arlington County)

Arlington County Board member Matt de Ferranti says he has lots of questions for the county’s criminal justice system after an inmate died in the county jail two weeks ago.

On Saturday, he released a statement committing to figuring out why Paul Thompson, a homeless man arrested for trespassing at a place from which he was previous banned, died in the Arlington County Detention Center earlier this month. He also committed to avoiding preventable deaths at the jail.

“Typically, a number of state agencies — the Magistrate, the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, and the Public Defender’s office and our Judges — along with the Arlington County Police Department and the Department of Human Services all have a role in cases like Mr. Thompson’s,” he said. “In my oversight role as a Board Member, I share in the responsibility to make sure we are doing everything we can.”

On Feb. 1, Thompson became the seventh man in seven years to die in the custody of the Sheriff’s Office. Six of the seven have been Black.

The Arlington branch of the NAACP has been sounding the alarm on in-custody deaths in part because of their disproportionate impact on men of color since the 2020 death of Darryl Becton.

“We are failing men of color [and] we are failing people who are homeless in this community,” said Juliet Hiznay, an education and disability rights attorney and a member of the NAACP, during the County Board meeting on Saturday.

Last fall, the ongoing investigation into Becton’s death led to charges filed against a man police say falsified a patient record. It also prompted the Sheriff’s Office to change its jail-based medical provider, which was finalized within 24 hours of Thompson’s death.

And now, the death of Thompson — who did not have a criminal history but did suffer from a mental illness, Sheriff Beth Arthur told WTOP — is prompting greater scrutiny from the Arlington County Board.

“There will be follow-up in the coming weeks through the County Manager, and I personally will be following up in the short term,” de Ferranti tells ARLnow. “We do have to focus on solutions, and that’s why, I’ll be engaging with staff and subject-matter experts on this.”

Thompson’s death is being investigated by Arlington police and an autopsy is still pending, the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said today (Monday).

De Ferranti said he looks forward to answers to the following questions.
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(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) Arlington has officially signed a contract with a new medical provider assigned to the county jail.

The contract was finalized Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after an inmate, Paul Thompson, died yesterday, the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office tells ARLnow.

Thompson, 41, was found unresponsive yesterday afternoon in the Arlington County Detention Facility and rushed to Virginia Hospital Center after resuscitation efforts by medics, but he was later pronounced dead.

Mediko had been operating on an emergency order since Nov. 16, after the county dropped its previous correctional health care provider following a series of six inmate deaths in six years. The 2020 death of another inmate, Darryl Becton, resulted in charges against a man who appears to have worked for the jail’s now-former medical provider.

Thompson’s death brings the total number of inmates who died while at the county jail, which is run by the Sheriff’s Office, to seven in seven years. Six of the seven people who have died, including Thompson, were Black.

ACSO spokeswoman Maj. Tara Johnson says inmate deaths “absolutely” are rising, but she hasn’t found any clear trends driving the increase.

“Prior to five, six years ago… it wasn’t something we were looking at annually,” she said. “Now, we definitely have been seeing an uptick.”

The deaths happen for a variety of reasons, she says, including a lack of medical care outside of the jail for issues such as heart disease or diabetes or withdrawal from drugs. Thompson was in the jail’s medical unit when he was found unresponsive, having returned to the jail from the hospital about 10 days ago for treatment of a medical problem Johnson declined to disclose.

Heart conditions have been the listed causes for the two most recent inmate deaths.

Clyde Spencer, the 58-year-old man who died in 2021, died of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, caused when plaque builds up in the arteries, and his manner of death was ruled to be natural, the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said Wednesday.

ARLnow previously learned Becton died of hypertensive cardiovascular disease, caused by sustained high blood pressure, complicated by opiate withdrawal. His manner of death was likewise determined to be natural.

To prevent drug-related deaths, she said the Sheriff’s Office has a body scanner that examines inmates when they’re booked, as well as drug testing for when they leave and return to the jail on court-ordered furloughs.

“Our policy is pretty strong, but it requires a lot of training and a lot of review of policies… and adding extra safeguards to make sure they’re safe,” she said.

These include random checks at 15- to 30-minute intervals for inmates with mental health concerns, though not all inmates are under constant observation, she said.

The Sheriff’s Office will conduct an internal review into whether the correct policies and procedures were followed in the events leading up to Thompson’s death, Johnson said. Similar administrative reviews are still ongoing for the deaths of Becton and Spencer.

The results will be sent to the Virginia Department of Corrections for an independent review.

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