Inmate dies in custody in county jail
2nd death in facility this year
The Colorado Bureau of Investigations is examining an inmate death at the Montezuma County jail. It’s the second reported inmate death to occur in four months.
According to Sheriff Dennis Spruell’s Facebook page, the unnamed inmate was brought into the jail around 1 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 26. The social media site reveals the inmate was “highly intoxicated,” and transported to an unnamed hospital for a medical clearance.
“The jail requires all suspects to receive a medical clearance if they are highly intoxicated or have obvious injuries,” Sheriff Spruell posted Monday morning.
After being cleared at the hospital, the inmate was returned to the jail at an unknown time. The Facebook post indicates the inmate was booked at 7 p.m.
According to the social media post, it appears a nurse was not on duty, but the inmate was placed on a medical watch.
“A medical watch requires detention staff to physically check on the prisoner every 30 minutes,” Spruell posted.
At 9:22 p.m., the prisoner was contacted again, and reportedly told the detention staff he was OK. At 3:08 a.m., the prisoner was found dead in his cell, according to the Facebook post.
“The coroner responded and took custody of the body,” Sheriff Spruell posted. “The coroner is requiring an autopsy be performed to determine cause of death.”
A public information officer with the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office declined to release any additional information, including the inmate’s identity, citing the case had been turned over to state officials.
“The Colorado Bureau of Investigations is handling the case,” said Montezuma County Lt. Det. Ted Meador.
Sheriff Spruell routinely updates his Facebook page, and often states that those facing charges are “left in the care of the jail.”
Spruell posted the inmate was brought in by the Cortez Police Department on charges of trespassing. The city of Cortez spends an average of $135,000 annually to house inmates at the Montezuma County jail.
The weekend death marks the second such incident at the Montezuma County jail this year. Edward Grant Lyen, 61, reportedly committed suicide while in custody at the jail on June 13.
“(Lyen) hung himself using a bed sheet in a holding cell,” said Montezuma County coroner Charlie Rosenbaugh.
The Montezuma County jail is a 104-bed facility operated under the direction of the sheriff’s office. According to Spruell, the facility houses an average of 90 inmates per day.