2 jail workers fired after Lancaster inmate's suicide

jzou@heraldonline.comMay 27, 2014 

— An internal investigation into the suicide of a Lancaster County jail inmate has “revealed several policy violations” that led to the firing of two employees and the suspension of others, Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile said Tuesday.

The State Law Enforcement Division also is investigating the suicide of Randy William Stevens, 44, who was found dead in his cell on May 20.

Stevens used bedsheets to hang himself, Faile said in a statement. He was arrested a day earlier and charged with drunken public disorderly conduct. Stevens was “possibly suicidal,” Faile said, but he denied that he was when asked by officers on several occasions.

In both his statement and in an interview with The Herald, Faile would not name the employees who were fired or disciplined, saying such personnel matters were confidential. The “serious” policy violations affected several inmates at the detention center and were not specifically related to Stevens’ case, he said .

Three employees have been suspended without pay and others are receiving counseling and other forms of “swift and appropriate disciplinary action,” Faile said. The violations were “related to the amount of time between the routine jail checks,” he said.

In the statement, Faile said Stevens’ death was not preventable, despite the violations the internal investigation found.

“Proper procedure would not have prevented Stevens’ suicide,” Faile said.

The report described Stevens as “irate” and “belligerent,” refusing treatment at Springs Memorial Hospital where he had been taken after officers found him walking down Memorial Park Road. Stevens also kicked an officer trying to get him into a patrol vehicle, according to the sheriff’s statement.

Jail employees were unable to complete the booking process because of Stevens’ behavior, Faile said in the statement. Stevens was placed in a private cell, which is standard procedure for intoxicated persons.

Officers continued to speak with Stevens several times over the next hour, according to the statement, and were “successful in calming Stevens after retrieving him a bag lunch from the kitchen.”

Stevens was last seen eating his meal, when he told officers he was going to sleep.

The internal investigation is now closed, Faile said, and he expects findings from the SLED investigation soon.

No policy changes will be implemented as a result of the investigation, he said.

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