RACINE – The Racine County Sheriff’s Office decided to release a short video of Malcolm I. James while in custody earlier this month. It is in this prison cell where authorities say he had a mental health crisis and died.
The office posted a 7.5-minute video to YouTube on Wednesday. In it, Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling addressed what he called misinformation regarding the deaths of James and Ronquale Ditello-Scott Jr., who died in the same jail during the same week at the end of May. . Officials say James died after hitting his head against the cell wall, undergoing a “medical event” and subsequently becoming unconscious.
The spectator’s caution is advised. Video can be difficult to watch. Click here to watch the video posted by the office on YouTube.
Sheriff Schmaling and his office initially announced earlier this month that the office would not release any information as the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office investigates the deaths. But Schmaling said in Wednesday’s video that he hopes the partial release of the video will help end the misinformation surrounding the controversial deaths.
“With the onset of serious misinformation and completely inaccurate statements, I must now balance the interest of protecting the integrity of the investigation with the release of limited information so the public has the facts,” Schmaling said.
The approximately 4-minute clip is recorded from what appears to be body cameras of prison staff. The video first shows James with a blanket over his head, standing in his cell. At times, he then bangs his head against the cell wall. Meanwhile, the guard calls James and slaps his fingers against the prison cell window in an attempt to arrest him. She did not enter the cell during the video. She also enlisted the help of another prison employee.
Later in the video, James walks over to the window and puts his hands on it, then walks around the cell, clearly agitated.
Sheriff Schmaling said the clip of James “makes it clear that Mr. James was in fact intentionally injured while in the Racine County Jail.”
The sheriff said James had been seen by mental health professionals and had also visited the hospital twice. The sheriff said his staff “have taken many steps to prevent Mr. James from continuing to harm himself.”
Schmaling said that when the staff entered the prison cell, James “got into a violent fight with the prison staff and they had to use physical force to secure him for medical treatment.” Wednesday’s clip did not show this part of the incident.
“While it is true that a Taser was used, the claims made about Tasers causing death are completely false. Medical experts have always supported this fact,” Schmaling said.
Sheriff Schmaling ended the video by saying that upon completion of the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office external investigation, he will announce what happened and answer questions.
The sheriff also said he supports mental health training, education and public awareness for those detained.
The original announcement of the deaths in prison
The sheriff’s office’s initial announcement of the deaths was released on June 4.
Death of Malcolm I. James
On the morning of the same day, around 3 a.m. on May 29, the Racine County Sheriff’s Office said it had taken Malcolm I. James into custody on 14 counts of reckless endangering security and one count. arson in a building.
The office says that due to a recent suicide attempt, James was placed under close surveillance in a high-visibility cell.
While in the cell, the office said James “engaged in multiple acts of self-harm where, among other things, he violently smashed his head against a concrete wall.”
James’ self-injuring behavior was serious enough that the office said he was taken to hospital, where he was medically treated. Medical staff at the hospital then allowed him to return to prison, according to the office.
Three days later, on June 1, the office said James smashed his head again against a concrete wall “so violently it was audible to prison staff.” When prison staff tried to assess James and prevent him from harming himself, the office said “he had suffered a medical event which made him unresponsive.”
Medics tried to provide treatment but James did not regain consciousness and was pronounced dead, according to the office.
Ronquale Ditello-Scott Jr.
The Racine County Sheriff’s Office said around 2:30 a.m. on May 29 that deputies arrested a man for swerving in and out of the tracks. The man, Ditello-Scott Jr., told MPs he was swerving because of car problems. The office says he then admitted to having smoked marijuana two hours previously.
In his vehicle, MPs say they found marijuana, drug paraphernalia and “open intoxicants“. The office said he failed a field field sobriety test and then detained him on various charges, including driving a vehicle while impaired.
Ditello-Scott Jr. was taken to hospital where he consented to a blood test. He was then taken to prison.
The office says Ditello-Scott Jr. received basic necessities there and was allowed to sleep in a holding cell. Prison nurses checked him in around 7:00 am, stating that he “was snoring and appeared to have a normal skin tone.”
Within an hour, the office said nurses double-checked Ditello-Scott Jr., who was then on duty with the office’s words “yellow in color and not breathing.” Medical staff provided emergency treatment, but he could not be resuscitated. He was pronounced dead in prison.
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