YORK — Officers at the York County Detention Center followed all policies and procedures on the morning a man suspected of running over and killing his stepmother and a neighbor killed himself, Sheriff Bruce Bryant said Tuesday.
At a news conference, Bryant said the Sheriffs Office has concluded its internal investigation into the death of Joshua Grose, 34, a Rock Hill man who was arrested and charged in the deaths of the two women and nearly killing a man in October. Grose died in custody at the York County Detention Center less than 36 hours after the attacks.
Staff attorney Kris Jordan, Bryant and other officers presented their findings in a three-hour news conference, concluding that all policies and procedures were followed the morning of Oct. 20, when Grose hit his head on a wall, then attempted to drown himself in his cell toilet before repeatedly slamming his head against whatever he could.
York County Coroner Sabrina Gast ruled the initial cause of death to be blunt force trauma to the head. The full results of the autopsy wont be available for several weeks, Jordan said.
We have determined that actions taken by detention officers with regard to Mr. Grose were not only within our policy guidelines regarding the use of force and use of restraints, but the actions by our detention officers exemplified the behavior the sheriff expects with regard to the treatment of detainees in our facility, Jordan said.
The Sheriffs Office is, however, looking into several procedures to see how an incident like this might be avoided in the future, Jordan said, such as the way restraint chairs are kept in place when combative inmates are placed in them.
Grose was forced into a chair after the toilet incident. His chair was placed in a cell, where it was held in place by closing one of the straps in the cell door. The position of the chair allowed Grose, who was wearing a football helmet placed on him by officers, to slam his head into doors window.
Jordan also said the Sheriffs Office was having preliminary meetings with Piedmont Medical Center to explore the use of tranquilizers at the detention center to stop combative detainees from posing a danger to themselves and others.
Over the course of about 90 minutes on Oct. 20, Grose was extremely combative with officers, kicking and spitting at them and at one point, grabbing the open end of a handcuff like he wanted to use it as a weapon, said Sgt. John Hicks.
Theres certain things we have to do sometimes when things are not going normal, Bryant said. We do what we have to do to make sure our inmates are kept safe and that our officers are kept safe.
The media was shown security footage from the night of Groses death, although the video was not being released to the public.
Because of the nature of this incident, people, Im sure, want to ask questions, Jordan said. They want to question what law enforcement does and thats their right to do that.
But the video would not be released to the public because the Sheriffs Office believes showing the video would pose a security risk to the facility.
Bryant and Jordan said the reason for showing the video to the media was to address allegations of misconduct by officers dealing with Grose.
You will see, by this video, just how compassionate some of these officers are, Bryant said.
He also challenged the media to find a place where the officers at the detention center did anything to cause Groses death.
We cant control conduct, he said. We deal with it on a daily basis.
Jordan also addressed the case of Jeffrey Waddell, a York County inmate who died in custody in 2006 while strapped to a restraint chair. Waddell suffered from a severe seizure condition and mental illness, Jordan said.
Immediately after Waddells death, the detention center made changes to its procedures for victims of seizures while in custody, she said.
Jordan stated several times throughout the news conference that the detention center is not a mental facility and is not equipped to function as such.
We did the best we could, she said of that 2006 incident.
Rachel Southmayd • 803-329-4072