Press Club

Morning Notes

Layers of buildings and fog in Rosslyn (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington Ranks in New ‘Best’ Lists — “Niche, a platform for community and school ratings, released its 2022 Best Places to Live rankings this week, and Arlington and its neighborhoods ranked high on the lists. This year, Arlington County ranked No. 3 in Best Cities to Raise a Family in America, No. 4 in Best Cities to Live in America, and No. 5 for Best Cities for Young Professionals in America.” [Patch]

NAACP Asks for Civil Rights Investigation — “The Arlington County, Virginia, jail is the subject of a civil rights complaint by the Arlington Branch of the NAACP. The civil rights agency wrote a letter Monday to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division asking for an investigation into the patterns and practices at the Arlington County Detention Facility.” [WTOP]

Ebbin Bill Heads to Governor — “A proposal to repeal a Virginia law that requires adult children to be financially responsible for their parents is headed to the governor’s desk. Senator Adam Ebbin, who is behind the bill, says while it is rarely enforced it can be misused and abused.” [Fox 5]

It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 71 and low of 47. Sunrise at 7:16 am and sunset at 7:19 pm. [Weather.gov]

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The family of a man who died in Arlington County jail in 2020 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit blaming his death on willfully negligent care by the county and nurses.

Darryl Becton, 46, died in the Arlington County Detention Facility on Oct. 1, 2020. A state coroner determined he died of hypertensive cardiovascular disease, which is caused by sustained high blood pressure, complicated by opiate withdrawal.

The $10-million lawsuit filed in Arlington County Circuit Court names Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur, the elected official who oversees the jail and the Sheriff’s Office, and Corizon Correctional Health, the jail-based medical provider at the time, as defendants. Four medical staff, including one who was arrested in connection to Becton’s death, and a sheriff’s deputy are also named.

The Sheriff’s Office declined to comment. Corizon did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

Becton, a D.C. resident, was booked on Sept. 29, 2020, on an alleged probation violation following his conviction on a felony “unauthorized use of a motor vehicle” charge in 2019.

The lawsuit says his death two days later — after succumbing to symptoms of heroin and fentanyl withdrawal and untreated high blood pressure — “was wholly avoidable.”

The lawsuit claims Becton told staff when he was booked that he had an opiate addiction and high blood pressure. These became obvious, the suit says, in the early hours of Oct. 1, when his blood pressure registered 191/102 — which would require immediate medical attention — and he began experiencing withdrawal symptoms, including vomiting, nausea, body aches, tremors and diarrhea.

The lawsuit alleges that, despite his obvious illness, medical staff did not properly address his withdrawal symptoms nor treat him for high blood pressure, while deputies assigned to periodically check in on him did not take note of his worsening symptoms.

“From 6 a.m. until 4:16 p.m., he was essentially left uncared for, untreated and alone,” said Mark Krudys, the attorney for the family during a noon press conference outside the jail today (Friday). “He was being casually monitored by the nursing and outright ignored by correctional staff. This did not have to occur. People don’t die from these conditions if they’re taken to medical [facilities] and receive the medical care they need.”

This is not the first time Corizon has been sued for inmate deaths allegedly connected to inadequate care. And Becton’s death, combined with the arrest of one nurse possibly connected to Corizon, prompted the county to cut ties with the provider and select a new provider, Mediko.

The lawsuit also alleges Becton was denied his civil rights in not receiving adequate medical care.

Many family members were present gave emotional tributes to Becton at the press conference.

His cousin, Janae Pugh, said it is every family’s “worst nightmare” to hear that a family member has died in the custody of people who are supposed to “protect and serve” the community.

“To stand here before you and expose my family’s suffering and pain is heartbreaking but very necessary,” she said. “The people in charge need to be held accountable for these preventable deaths. We are here today to seek justice and bring awareness to Darryl’s case.”

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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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Morning Notes

An artist paints inside Palette 22 in Shirlington (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Fallon Sings About Pentagon Chicken — “That stroke of social media brilliance was followed by even more exposure as ‘The Tonight Show’ host Jimmy Fallon wrote a song for the bold bird. It began with the lyrics ‘Are you just a clucker or an undercover spy?’ We do not expect the Pentagon to answer.” [WTOP, Twitter, Facebook]

WBJ Calls Out Crystal City Erasure — “On Jan. 18, JBG Smith Properties announced it has started construction on a pair of multifamily towers at 2000 and 2001 S. Bell St., a block south of the Crystal City Metro station. In, I dare say, the heart of Crystal City. But in that 750-word press release, “Crystal City” does not appear. Not once. ‘National Landing,’ meanwhile, appears seven times.” [Washington Business Journal]

More on School Mask Judge — “The Arlington judge who dealt a blow Friday to Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order making masks optional in schools is married to an Arlington teacher, but attorneys for Youngkin (R) and the school boards did not believe she should have recused herself.” [Washington Post]

More On Eyeglass Smash and Grabs — “Five men with hoods and heavy coats cased the store for about five minutes, Abbasi said, then smashed open the display cases holding Cartier, Gucci and Dior glass frames and made off with about $60,000 worth of merchandise. Surveillance video shows the five bandits rapidly shoveling the high-dollar frames into plastic bags while Abbasi is yelling at them and calling police, leaving a patina of shattered glass chunks in their wake.” [Washington Post]

‘Mental Health Crisis’ at County Jail — “Sheriff Beth Arthur said the man, Paul Thompson, should not have been there, pointing out he had no criminal history. But she admits he did suffer from mental illness like most of the county’s inmates… Of the 280 current inmates, some 170 have mental health challenges; 66 of them are serious. Even the longtime sheriff wants to know why the county is ‘dumping these people in jail when they need serious care.'” [WTOP]

Metro Budget Meeting Tonight in Courthouse — “Beginning Monday, February 7, Metro will hold the first of three public hearings for people to weigh in on Metro’s Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget. Hearings will be held next week and will provide for both virtual and in person public participation options.” [WMATA]

Beyer Challenger Launches Primary Bid — “An intra-party challenger to U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th) kicked off her campaign Feb. 2 with a singular plea to Arlington Democrats. ‘Give me a chance,’ Victoria Virasingh asked during a kickoff speech… An Arlington native, Virasingh – who did not level any criticism at Beyer or even mention him by name in her remarks – said her goal was to create ‘a community that is rich and thriving and has opportunity for all of us.'” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Monday — A slight chance of snow and freezing rain today before 9 a.m., then a slight chance of rain and snow after that. Otherwise partly sunny, with a high near 45. Sunrise at 7:07 a.m. and sunset at 5:37 p.m. Mostly sunny tomorrow, with a high near 43. [Weather.gov]

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Rain puddles in Shirlington (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

It was quite a week.

There was everything from breaking news, like the county finalizing a new jail medical provider after the latest inmate death, to helpful stories like where to stock up on Girl Scout cookies. And you all seemed particularly interested in stories about wayward poultry and an aggressive fox.

Here are the most-read Arlington articles of the past week.

  1. Rogue chicken caught sneaking around Pentagon entrance
  2. Crawfish eatery Chasin’ Tails is leaving Arlington for Falls Church
  3. Fox menaces Gulf Branch neighborhood, leading to rabies warning
  4. Another death reported at Arlington County jail
  5. Two arrested after assaults at Columbia Pike businesses over the weekend
  6. As the ranks of freelancers swell, the taxman cometh for those in Arlington
  7. Covid case counts decline to pre-Christmas levels in Arlington
  8. Arlington is phasing out EasyPark devices this month
  9. Girl Scouts bring back more in-person cookie sales, starting this week
  10. Clarendon salon launches gender-neutral pricing model

Feel free to discuss those stories or anything else of local interest in the comments. Have a great weekend and stay warm, Arlington!

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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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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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A man died Tuesday after being found unresponsive in the medical unit of the Arlington County jail, prompting a regional law enforcement investigation and statements from local leaders.

Clyde Spencer, 58, was rushed to Virginia Hospital Center, where he later died. He is the sixth inmate at the jail to die over the past six years.

The last reported inmate death, in October 2020, remains under investigation. A regional body called the Northern Virginia Critical Incident Response Team is now investigating Spencer’s death.

Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti, Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti and Sheriff Beth Arthur — whose office runs the jail — all issued expressions of sympathy for Spencer’s family and support for the CIRT investigation in statements released Friday morning.

From a county press release:

Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti, along with the Sheriff and Commonwealth Attorney, issued the following statements today regarding the death investigation at the Arlington County Detention Facility earlier this week.

“Mr. Clyde Spencer passed away Tuesday at the Virginia Hospital Center after he was taken there when he was found unresponsive at the Arlington County Detention Facility. Our thoughts and sympathies are with Mr. Spencer’s family and friends in this time of loss,” said de Ferranti. “We support the decision to call for an independent investigation from the Northern Virginia Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT), a regional team that investigates deaths or serious injuries involving law enforcement officers in participating jurisdictions in Northern Virginia.”

“We offer our condolences to the Spencer family,” said Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur. “Incidents like these are taken very seriously by my office, and me personally. We will fully cooperate with the investigation.”

“My heart goes out to the families suffering from the loss of their loved ones,” said Commonwealth Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti. “We are diligently working with the CIRT and the ACPD on these cases and hope the community and the families involved understand that we cannot reveal the content of the investigations, and the Virginia rule of professional conduct 3.6 prohibits me from commenting on a pending case.”

At the completion of a comprehensive, thorough, and impartial investigation, the CIRT will present the facts and evidence to the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

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(Update at 5:20 p.m.) A man being held at the Arlington County jail has died after being found unconscious yesterday morning.

Clyde Spencer, 58, was in the jail’s medical unit when he was found unresponsive around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to a police department press release. He was rushed to Virginia Hospital Center following resuscitation efforts, but died last night. An exact cause of death was not given.

The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the lockup at 1435 N. Courthouse Road, said yesterday afternoon that the man was “in stable condition.” Today’s police department press release says Spencer’s condition “did not improve, and he was pronounced deceased at 5:58 p.m.”

The in-custody death will now be investigated by the recently-established Northern Virginia Critical Incident Response Team, according to the police department, which described the case as “an active criminal investigation.”

Spencer was jailed for trespassing, the press release noted.

The Arlington branch of the NAACP said in a statement today that this was the sixth death of an inmate in the past six years.

“This is unacceptable, unconscionable, and distressing,” the NAACP said. The full statement is below.

Over a year ago, on October 1, 2020, Daryl Becton died in the custody of the Arlington County Sheriff. In August of 2021, eleven months later, the ACPD said they were putting the final touches on their investigation and would have it to the Commonwealth Attorney “very soon.” Unfortunately, as of October 6, 2021, we have not received any updates that ACPD has sent their investigation to the Commonwealth Attorney over a year later. So now another Black man has died in the custody of the Sheriff at the Arlington County Detention Facility. While we don’t know the details yet and are getting contradictory information from official and unofficial sources, this is the SIXTH death of an Arlington County inmate in 6 years. 

Delayed answers for Mr. Becton’s family and now another death. This is unacceptable, unconscionable, and distressing to anyone following the deaths of inmates and our criminal justice system in Arlington, Virginia. We need closure to the investigation surrounding Mr. Becton’s untimely death, and ACPD must recuse itself from investigating this new death. Our community deserves an investigation by an impartial party to get to the bottom of death number 6, another person of color, and a fellow human being. 

The last publicly-reported inmate death was that of 46-year-old Darryl Becton in October 2020, the investigation into which remains in progress. Of the four others who died, three were also Black and one was white, according to a joint letter from Arlington Sheriff Beth Arthur and Police Chief Andy Penn to the NAACP, shared with ARLnow.

Two of the men were found to have died of “natural causes” and one died of a drug overdose, the letter said. Jitesh Patel, the deceased inmate described as white, was a murder suspect who committed suicide in his cell with a jail-issued razor, the letter said.

The Critical Incident Response Team, established earlier this year “to investigate critical incidents involving law enforcement officers within the cooperating jurisdictions,” is investigating the latest inmate death at the request of Chief Penn, according to the ACPD press release.

The full press release is below.

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