City prisoner kills himself at police headquarters

Published 11:45 am Friday, August 10, 2012

A Vicksburg man arrested two hours earlier in the theft of a tire from a storage shed killed himself Thursday afternoon while in the custody of Vicksburg Police Department, officials said.

The death of Ryan Maddox, 37, 1201 South St., was suicide from strangling himself with a shackling chain, Warren County Coroner Doug Huskey said this morning after an autopsy was performed in Jackson.

The chain was used to restrict movement in the police headquarters room where he was being held before a transfer for an overnight stay until a court appearance today, Chief Walter Armstrong said.

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Maddox was found unresponsive in his cell at police headquarters, 820 Veto St., around 3:20 p.m., said police Capt. Bobby Stewart. He was taken by ambulance to River Region Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead by the hospital staff at 3:57 p.m., Stewart said.

Maddox was alone in the holding cell and had been restrained with “a set of shackles,” said Stewart, chief of investigations.

Armstrong described the restraints as handcuffs and foot shackles with a chain linking the two, running from the waist to the ankles. He estimated Maddox’s height at 6 feet and his weight at 175 pounds.

Huskey said Maddox was found with the chain around his neck.

It is the department’s policy to shackle anyone arrested, whether for a felony offense or a misdemeanor, Stewart said.

“We do not have an actual jail,” Armstrong said. “Shackling helps prevent (prisoners) from injuring each other and also prevents escapes. We are constantly moving inmates in and out of these holding cells to bring them to the courtroom, to investigations or fingerprinting.”

Police headquarters has six holding cells, the chief said — three in the area where Maddox was held and three near the municipal courtroom. It is not unusual for more than one prisoner to be held in a cell, he said.

The cell in which Maddox was held measures 8-by-12-feet and contains two benches and a combination sink and toilet, Armstrong said.

“We try not to hold them there for more than six hours. There are no overnight stays,” he said.

A closed-circuit TV camera records activities in the cell, with images being sent to monitors at the department’s front desk and in the administrative areas near Armstrong’s office, the chief said.

In addition, the department’s policy mandates that booking officers physically check on prisoners at least every 30 minutes, Armstrong said, adding that he was not sure what time officers checked Maddox and found him fine but it was within the 30-minute interval.

“He was checked on by the booking officers. At the last checkup, he was found unresponsive,” said the chief.

Maddox was arrested Thursday just after 1 p.m. for the burglary of a storage shed in the 700 block of National Street. The burglary had been reported at 11:53 a.m., and a rim and tire had been reported stolen.

Armstrong said Maddox did not appear distraught or upset when he was booked, fingerprinted, questioned and placed in the cell by booking officers.

“He was very cooperative,” Armstrong said, adding that Maddox led officers investigating the burglary to a wooded area where the tire and rim were found.

In addition to the burglary charge, Maddox was being held for the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

On Thursday, he was to be taken to the Issaquena County Jail to await his initial hearing in municipal court this morning, Armstrong said.

City prisoners are not held in the Warren County Jail until after initial court hearings.

Maddox was convicted of auto burglary in 2002 and sentenced by then-Circuit Court Judge Frank Vollor to a suspended seven-year sentence, according to records from the district attorney’s office. The suspended sentence was revoked in 2004 and Maddox was sentenced to serve the seven years, less time off for time served in jail. He was paroled in 2007, the DA’s records show.

“Our condolences go out to the family of Mr. Maddox,” Armstrong said. “We certainly do sympathize with them, and it is very unfortunate that he passed.”

Armstrong was not certain when, if ever, a prisoner had died at or from injuries sustained at the police department.

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said no prisoners had died at or from injuries at the county jail during his time in office. Pace was elected in 1996.

In August 2008, a Vicksburg police prisoner held in the Issaquena County Jail had a reaction to a medication and died after a two-day hospital stay at River Region.