No charges in inmate death at Brunswick County Detention Center

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By Caroline Curran, Reporter

BOLIVIA—No charges have been filed in connection with a December 2011 death of an inmate at the Brunswick County Detention Center.

District attorney Jon David announced Monday, Feb. 20, he found no evidence criminal charges were warranted in the death of 21-year old Steven Allen Myers of Cary.

Sheriff’s office officials said Myers “died alone in his cell of an apparent suicide” on Dec. 23, 2011, while in custody at the Brunswick County Detention Center.

Myers was in the general population at the detention center, where he had been in custody since Dec. 20, 2011, when he was booked for several felony charges, including an assault on a female charge, two assault by strangulation charges and a communicating threats charge.

Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram said Myers was placed on suicide watch immediately after being booked into the detention facility. Inmates on suicide watch are isolated from the rest of the population and monitored. Detention officers check on watch inmates every 15 minutes, Ingram said.

After a few days on suicide watch, a physician cleared Myers, saying he could return to the general population, Ingram said. When he returned to general population, Ingram said Myers managed to strip the sheet off the bed to assist him.

A preliminary investigation has determined Myers died from self-inflicted asphyxiation. 

Ingram said detention officers are trained to observe and detect behaviors to determine if an inmate is considered to be a threat or suicidal.

Both David and Ingram requested an investigation by the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) immediately following the death, “in order to ensure a thorough investigation into the matter by a neutral entity,” David said.

“SBI has concluded a comprehensive investigation and I am now in a position to make a determination.  The role of the District Attorney is to determine whether anyone should be prosecuted in connection with this death.  A review of the facts and law lead me to conclude that no criminal charges are warranted.

“Based on my findings, no further action will be taken on this matter by the District Attorney’s Office.  I have called Sheriff Ingram and informed him of my decision.   Moreover, I made a copy of the SBI report for Sheriff Ingram so that he may review the investigation in evaluating detention policy,” David said.

The charges against Myers have been dismissed, David said.

“Last week, I met with members of the Myers’ family.  I explained our findings and invited them, or a civil attorney of their choosing, to make a full inspection of the investigative file,” David said.

Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Jane Evans said the last time an inmate committed suicide while in custody was at the county’s previous detention facility. In March 2005 Paul Andrews of Oak Island committed suicide while in a holding cell in the old jail facility, Evans said.

Caroline Curran is a staff writer at The Brunswick Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or by email at ccurran@brunswickbeacon.com.