Cops claim man hanged himself in East Cleveland jail Wednesday


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A source informed us today that a 42 year old man died in police custody in East Cleveland’s jail on November 21.

Councilman Nathaniel Martin says a police source told him the man hanged himself and there’s allegedly video of him committing suicide. The video may be a public record.

Council vice president Chantelle Lewis contacted the county coroner today and was directed to Powell Ceasar. The coroner’s office is a 24-hour operation. Lewis is a member of the legislative authority of the city of East Cleveland who has a duty to gather information about any act that requires official intervention. She claimed Ceasar told her no one was at the coroner’s office and that she had to wait until Monday when he arrived in the office to get information about the alleged suicide.

City council recently passed legislation asking the justice department to investigate the city’s police operations. Council members claim the mayor did not inform them of the serious tragedy.

Any litigation against the city from the victim’s family will have a negative impact on East Cleveland’s already $8.2 million deficit. It’s important for council to get early exposure to the facts so they can act now to mitigate any impact on the city by launching a full investigation to determine fault. Any early determination that city employees may have been derelict in the performance of their duties could result in the jail being ordered closed immediately by Judge Will Dawson. East Cleveland has been under a federal consent decree since 1974 to upgrade the city’s jail. Individuals like Gerald Strothers have had recent first hand experiences that show the current administration’s total disregard for federal and state laws that govern the intake, care, treatment and feeding of Americans citizens who have been taken into custody by East Cleveland police.

There are certain specific acts that East Cleveland police employees were required to perform under Ohio law relative to the death of the 42 year old man.

1) They were supposed to contact the coroner immediately.
2) They could not disturb or move the body without the permission of the coroner.

The coroner also has specific duties under Ohio law.

1) The coroner must independently investigate the alleged suicide to determine all the known facts surrounding the death.
2) Sign a “coroner’s verdict” indicating that the alleged suicide was independently investigatedt.

The Ohio Revised Code chapters that support the statements above are listed below.

313.11 Unlawfully disturbing a body.
(A) No person, without an order from the coroner, any deputy coroner, or an investigator or other person designated by the coroner as having authority to issue an order under this section, shall purposely remove or disturb the body of any person who has died in the manner described in section 313.12 of the Revised Code, or purposely and without such an order disturb the clothing or any article upon or near such a body or any of the possessions that the coroner has a duty to store under section 313.14 of the Revised Code.

(B) It is an affirmative defense to a charge under this section that the offender attempted in good faith to rescue or administer life-preserving assistance to the deceased person, even though it is established he was dead at the time of the attempted rescue or assistance.

(C) Whoever violates this section is guilty of unlawfully disturbing a body, a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.
Effective Date: 09-26-1990

313.12 Notice to coroner of violent, suspicious, unusual or sudden death.
(A) When any person dies as a result of criminal or other violent means, by casualty, by suicide, or in any suspicious or unusual manner, when any person, including a child under two years of age, dies suddenly when in apparent good health, or when any mentally retarded person or developmentally disabled person dies regardless of the circumstances, the physician called in attendance, or any member of an ambulance service, emergency squad, or law enforcement agency who obtains knowledge thereof arising from the person’s duties, shall immediately notify the office of the coroner of the known facts concerning the time, place, manner, and circumstances of the death, and any other information that is required pursuant to sections 313.01 to 313.22 of the Revised Code. In such cases, if a request is made for cremation, the funeral director called in attendance shall immediately notify the coroner.

(B) As used in this section, “mentally retarded person” and “developmentally disabled person” have the same meanings as in section 5123.01 of the Revised Code.

Effective Date: 01-30-2004

313.15 Determination of responsibility for death.
All dead bodies in the custody of the coroner shall be held until such time as the coroner, after consultation with the prosecuting attorney, or with the police department of a municipal corporation, if the death occurred in a municipal corporation, or with the sheriff, has decided that it is no longer necessary to hold such body to enable him to decide on a diagnosis giving a reasonable and true cause of death, or to decide that such body is no longer necessary to assist any of such officials in his duties.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

313.17 Subpoenas – oath and testimony of witnesses.
The coroner or deputy coroner may issue subpoenas for such witnesses as are necessary, administer to such witnesses the usual oath, and proceed to inquire how the deceased came to his death, whether by violence to self or from any other persons, by whom, whether as principals or accessories before or after the fact, and all circumstances relating thereto. The testimony of such witnesses shall be reduced to writing and subscribed to by them, and with the findings and recognizances mentioned in this section, shall be kept on file in the coroner’s office, unless the county fails to provide such an office, in which event all such records, findings and recognizances shall be kept on file in the office of the clerk of the court of common pleas. The coroner may cause such witnesses to enter into recognizance, in such sum as is proper, for their appearance to give testimony concerning the matter. He may require any such witnesses to give security for their attendance, and, if any of them fails to comply with his requirements he shall commit such person to the county jail until discharged by due course of law. In case of the failure of any person to comply with such subpoena, or on the refusal of a witness to testify to any matter regarding which he may lawfully be interrogated, the probate judge, or a judge of the court of common pleas, on application of the coroner, shall compel obedience to such subpoena by attachment proceedings as for contempt. A report shall be made from the personal observation by the coroner or his deputy of the corpse, from the statements of relatives or other persons having any knowledge of the facts, and from such other sources of information as are available, or from the autopsy.

Effective Date: 08-06-1976

313.19 Coroner’s verdict the legally accepted cause of death.
The cause of death and the manner and mode in which the death occurred, as delivered by the coroner and incorporated in the coroner’s verdict and in the death certificate filed with the division of vital statistics, shall be the legally accepted manner and mode in which such death occurred, and the legally accepted cause of death, unless the court of common pleas of the county in which the death occurred, after a hearing, directs the coroner to change his decision as to such cause and manner and mode of death.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953






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