Press Club

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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Arlington County jail

(Updated at 12:25 a.m.) A 41-year-old man arrested for trespassing is dead after going into cardiac arrest at the Arlington County jail this afternoon.

Paramedics responded to the jail shortly after 3 p.m. for a report of CPR in progress in the jail’s medical unit. In a joint police department and sheriff’s office press release tonight, authorities said the man, Paul Thompson, was found unresponsive in his cell and was rushed to Virginia Hospital Center after resuscitation efforts by medics, but he was later pronounced dead.

Court records suggest that Thompson was arrested for trespassing at a location he was banned from earlier. He was charged with a misdemeanor and assigned a public defender. His next court hearing was scheduled for Feb. 8.

Police will investigate the fatal incident while the medical examiner’s office determines a cause of death.

The jail, which is run by the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, changed its medical services provider this past fall after a series of six inmate deaths in six years. One death resulted in charges against a man who appears to have worked for the jail’s now-former medical provider.

Of the now seven people who have died in the jail over the past seven year, six — including Thompson — were Black.

“This is unacceptable, unconscionable, and distressing,” the Arlington branch of the NAACP said in October, following the death of a 58-year-old inmate. The organization issued another statement Wednesday night, calling for a federal investigation.

The news of yet another inmate of color dying in the Arlington County Detention Center is met by the NAACP Arlington Branch with great sorrow and revulsion. Mr. Thompson, like Mr. Spencer last year, was “found” unresponsive and died while in Sheriff Arthur’s custody on February 1, 2022. He is now the seventh person of color to die in custody in Arlington in as many years. Unfortunately, the Sheriff for Arlington County still has not disclosed the failures that led to the last two Black men who died after being “found” unresponsive, nor has she disclosed reforms, if any, made to guarantee the health, welfare, and safety of those she and her command team are charged with protecting.

Nevertheless, even if anything was changed, Black men are still dying in custody, so any changes are inadequate. While few details are known right now, we know this is the THIRD death in two years and the SEVENTH death in seven years. We have only cryptic information that inmates are “found” unresponsive. But we do know that neither medical conditions nor withdrawal should not be death sentences while individuals are incarcerated by Arlington County Police Department for minor crimes.

We also know that ACPD should not be investigating given the poor and incomplete track record of their investigation into Mr. Becton’s death (2020) and co investigation into Mr. Spencer’s death (2021) and given their close ties with the ACDF.

Moreover, Mr. Thompson was awaiting a hearing on a trespassing charge when he died in a jail cell in which he had been confined for over two weeks. Mr. Spencer died for the crime of being homeless and Black. Mr. Becton for a probation violation that should not have landed him in jail. The other men who died in custody we’re held on similar minor charges.

The pattern was evident then, and it continues to repeat, without anything more from the County than “expression of condolences.” Condolences ring hollow. The NAACP’s national motto, We Are Done Dying, sadly applies but will our elected officials and the government listen this time?

We call on the U.S. Department of Justice to open investigations immediately into the now seven deaths of people of color in the Arlington County Detention Facility and for an investigation into the arrest and incarceration patterns in Arlington County as well.

The full Arlington County press release about the death investigation is below.

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(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) Arlington County police are investigating after two people were found dead in an apartment near Ballston on Wednesday.

The investigation is taking place at the Clarendon Court Apartments complex, located on the 3800 block of 6th Street N. in the Ashton Heights neighborhood, about two blocks from the Gold’s Gym. Detectives could be seen using a ladder to take photos of the apartment, which is on the second floor of a two-story garden-style building.

“ACPD is conducting a death investigation in the 3800 block of 6th Street N.,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirms to ARLnow. “Police were dispatched at 12:01 p.m. to the report of a cardiac arrest and located two adults deceased inside a residence. The investigation into the circumstances of the deaths are ongoing and cause of death will be determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.”

Numerous police and fire department were on the scene. The parking lot of the building was cordoned off with crime scene tape while the investigation continues.

On Thursday morning, police said preliminary information suggests that “there is no apparent ongoing threat to the community.” From ACPD:

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

At approximately 12:01 p.m. on December 22, police were dispatched to the 3800 block of 6th Street N. for the report of cardiac arrest. Upon arrival, an adult male and female were located deceased inside a residence. This investigation into the circumstances of the deaths is ongoing. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine cause of death. Based on the preliminary investigation, there is no apparent ongoing threat to the community.

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).

Unanswered questions remain after a security contractor was killed at the U.S. State Department’s National Foreign Affairs Training Center in Arlington.

The incident happened the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 16, at the 65-acre campus near the intersection of Arlington Blvd (Route 50) and N. George Mason Drive.

Arlington’s 911 dispatch center received multiple calls shortly after 6 p.m. for a pedestrian struck on the P2 lot of the campus. Callers were asked to start CPR on the victim, who was then rushed via ambulance to Virginia Hospital Center in cardiac arrest, according to fire department radio traffic.

The exact circumstances around who struck the victim and with what type of vehicle remain unclear. The dispatches reference a large amount of blood on the scene.

Arlington County police and fire department spokespeople deferred comment to federal authorities.

The State Department confirmed that the victim, a security contractor, died.

“We can confirm the death of a uniformed protection officer (UPO) with the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) on November 16, 2021,” a spokesperson said in a statement, in response to an inquiry from ARLnow. “The officer was assigned to the National Foreign Affairs Training Center in Arlington, Virginia. The officer was a contractor whose job duties included domestic facilities protection. The Department of State extends its deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased.”

The State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service arm, which is based in Rosslyn, is leading the investigation.

“We do not comment on ongoing investigations due to privacy and law enforcement sensitivity considerations,” the State Department spokesperson said. “There is no further information we can provide at this time.”

The spokesman did not respond to a question seeking more clarity on what exactly happened.

ARLnow is told that the contractor who was killed was a 22-year-old former high school football player from Waldorf, Maryland. His funeral was held earlier this month.

The National Foreign Affairs Training Center is one of several locations of the Foreign Service Institute, which trains U.S. foreign affairs personnel.

Virginia State Police vehicle (photo by John Calhoun/JC Photography)

(Updated at 12:45 a.m.) A 30-year-old Arlington resident died in a house fire while visiting family in Augusta County over Thanksgiving weekend, Virginia State Police say.

Jacqueline Guerrier was found dead in the burning home on Deerfield Valley Road, in a rural area southwest of Harrisonburg. A man also suffered life-threatening injuries in the Sunday morning fire, according to VSP.

Locally, Guerrier lived in the East Falls Church area, records show. They graduated from James Madison University in 2014 and later wrote a master’s thesis on Star Trek fanzines. Guerrier worked for a legal research firm in D.C., according to a biography posted on the company’s website.

More from state police:

The Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Appomattox Field Office is investigating a fatal fire in Augusta County. The fire department was alerted to the fire at approximately 8:42 a.m. Sunday (Nov. 28, 2021). When fire crews arrived at the residence in the 300 block of Deerfield Valley Road, they found the house engulfed in flames. 

An adult male was flown to VCU Medical Center in Richmond, where he continues to be treated for life-threatening injuries sustained in the fire.

Fire crews recovered the remains of Jacqueline Guerrier, 30, of Arlington, Va., from inside the residence. [Their] remains were transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Roanoke for examination and autopsy. [Guerrier] was visiting family at the time of the fire. 

At this stage of the investigation, the fire does not appear to be suspicious in nature. The cause and origin remain under investigation. 

Arlington County is negotiating a contract with a new medical care provider for the county jail — its most recent move in the wake of a series of inmate deaths.

The decision, announced yesterday (Monday), comes the same month that a man, who appears to be connected to the current provider, appeared in Arlington County General District Court on charges related to the police investigation into the in-custody death of Darryl Becton last year.

Also this month, a man named Clyde Spencer became the sixth reported in-custody death in six years.

The effort to find a new medical provider will cut short Arlington’s contract with Corizon Correctional Health, which was renewed last year through 2025. Corizon will continue to provide services until the new provider is slated to take over, on Monday, Nov. 15. Because the negotiations are ongoing, the Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail, couldn’t reveal the name of the proposed new provider.

The county says it made the decision “after careful consideration” to ensure the medical safety of inmates.

“The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office is committed to providing the highest level of medical services to those in our custody and I take each individuals care very seriously,” Sheriff Beth Arthur said in a statement. “How we care for those remanded to our custody is a priority. We are committed to having a vendor that provides the level of medical service that reflects the high expectations of not only myself, but the Arlington community.”

Corizon was not immediately available to respond to a request for comment.

Corizon has been sued multiple times across the nation for inmate deaths allegedly connected to inadequate care. In Arlington, it appears that local officials are investigating whether the way Becton was cared for in jail played a role in his death. The state medical examiner’s office ruled his cause of death to be hypertensive cardiovascular disease — caused by sustained high blood pressure — complicated by opiate withdrawal.

Nearly one year after Becton’s death, the Commonwealth’s Attorney issued an arrest warrant for a man who was charged with falsifying a patient record, a misdemeanor.

Although the office couldn’t add further details about the man at the time, a D.C. resident by the same name lists his occupation as a licensed practical nurse and his employer as Corizon Health, according to a LinkedIn profile.

And if the man who was charged is indeed employed by Corizon, his case is the second in which a Corizon correctional nurse has been charged with a crime involving an inmate in Arlington.

Another nurse was charged in 2014 with misdemeanor sexual battery and found guilty in Arlington General District Court. In an appeal to the Circuit Court, the inmate and the nurse reached a deal that allowed the nurse to avoid a jail time, according to Maj. Susie Doyel, the then-spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office.

The Arlington branch of the NAACP, which called for an independent investigation into Becton’s death last year, issued a statement after the news of the new medical provider was released.

“Although the Sheriff’s Office is seeking a new medical contractor, the issue remains that there have been six in-custody deaths in six years, as reported by the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office,” President Julius “J.D.” Spain, Sr. said. “The Arlington Branch NAACP’s position remains firm in seeking justice for those who have died while in the custody of the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office.”

“Ultimately, the Arlington County Sheriff, the Command Staff, and Sheriff’s Office personnel are responsible for the health, care, and safety of the individuals in their custody,” Spain’s statement continued. “The Arlington Branch NAACP will continue to seek justice to find all who are responsible, complicit, and or negligent in the deaths of those in-custody and hold them accountable.”

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One year after an inmate died in the Arlington County jail, a man has been charged in connection with his death.

For the last year, the Arlington County Police Department has been investigating the death of Darryl Becton, 46, while in custody of the county jail on Oct. 1, 2020. One year later to the day, a man named Antoine Smith appeared in Arlington County General District Court on charges related to the investigation, according to a press release from the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Smith was charged with the misdemeanor of falsifying a patient record, according to the release. Police obtained a warrant for his arrest on Sept. 24.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney did not return requests for more information about who Smith is, who he works for and what records he falsified.

“The Commonwealth may not discuss the details of an ongoing investigation and Professional Rule of Responsibility 3.6 prohibits public commentary regarding the details of a pending case,” the release said. “A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and a charge is not evidence.”

What we do know is that Arlington County’s jail contracts with correctional healthcare provider Corizon Health to provide medical care to inmates. Last year, the contract was extended to 2025.

A D.C. area man who goes by the name Antoine Smith lists his occupation as a licensed practical nurse and his employer as Corizon Health, according to a LinkedIn profile.

Corizon has been sued multiple times across the nation for inmate deaths allegedly connected to inadequate care.

Assuming Smith is indeed employed by Corizon, this is not the first time a correctional nurse from Corizon has been charged with a crime involving an inmate in Arlington.

In 2014, another nurse from Corizon was charged with misdemeanor sexual battery and found guilty in Arlington General District Court, in an incident that was not previously reported publicly. He appealed to the Circuit Court and a deal was reached between the inmate and the nurse that allowed him avoid a jail time, according to Maj. Susie Doyel, the then-spokeswoman for the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail.

The news of the latest charges marks a step forward in the case, which police told ARLnow in August could soon be concluded.

Last fall, Becton, who is Black, was being held on an alleged probation violation after being convicted in 2019 of a felony, “unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.” On Oct. 1, 2020, a sheriff’s deputy and an Arlington Department of Human Services caseworker found Becton unresponsive in his cell. Despite resuscitation efforts, Becton was pronounced dead 30 minutes later.

Within a week, the Arlington branch of the NAACP wrote to the sheriff’s office and the police department requesting an independent investigation. The same month, Sheriff Beth Arthur and then-Acting Chief of Police Andy Penn wrote a joint response.

“The death of Mr. Becton is tragic and we can assure you that a thorough and comprehensive criminal investigation into this matter will be conducted by the ACPD, followed by a comprehensive administrative investigation by ASCO to determine if all applicable policies and procedures were followed surrounding Mr. Becton’s incarceration,” Arthur and Penn wrote.

Between then and August, little information had surfaced in Becton’s case. ARLnow learned from the medical examiner’s office that his cause of death was ruled to be hypertensive cardiovascular disease — caused by sustained high blood pressure — complicated by opiate withdrawal, and the manner of his death was ruled to be natural.

This case has been a top priority for the NAACP, as Becton was the fifth person — and the fourth Black man — to die in the facility between 2015 and 2020, per the Sheriff’s and Police Chief’s letter.

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