Coroner: Death of Ill. inmate restrained by COs classified as homicide
According to the sheriff, the COs were faced "with a nearly impossible situation"
By Riley Eubanks
The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The death of a Divernon man while in custody at the Sangamon County Jail has been classified as a homicide by the Sangamon County coroner.
Jaimeson Daniel Cody, 39, died April 28 due to not being able to breathe as he was being restrained by jail correctional officers, according to a report released by Sangamon County Coroner Jim Allmon on Friday.
The official cause of Cody's death was "restraint asphyxia in the setting of methamphetamine intoxication."
Cody had been arrested by Divernon Police and brought to the jail on April 27.
A correctional officer who was conducting a regular cell check around 11:40 p.m. on April 27 observed Cody with what appeared to be blood on his jail-issued uniform, eventually leading to correctional officers to enter Cody's cell.
Allmon and Sangamon County State's Attorney Dan Wright clarified in separate news releases Friday that "homicide" was a death classification and that did not imply guilt or the necessity of criminal changes.
Wright, who reviewed an Illinois State Police investigation, has requested an independent review by the Illinois State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office.
According to Allmon's report, a correctional officer reportedly used his weight to apply pressure to Cody's back as Cody was in a prone position on the jail floor.
Cody was also struck in the legs with a taser, according to reports.
Sheriff Jack Campbell in his own news release noted that correctional officers were faced "with a nearly impossible situation."
"Mr. Cody was harming himself, was non-responsive to officer requests to cease and comply and therefore needed to be restrained quickly for his own safety," Campbell added. "Swift action was necessary and warranted, and it was done with the intent of stopping a harmful situation, not to cause harm.
"Our officers used the methods and techniques that they learned through their training," he said.
Cody resisted health checks and attempts to handcuff him. After he was tased and handcuffed, Cody became unresponsive.
Medical staff immediately began CPR and an AED was brought to the scene. Emergency medical personnel arrived at the jail to take over CPR.
Cody was transported to Memorial Medical Center where he died shortly after 4:30 a.m. on April 28.
In the coroner's report, it was found that Cody had broken ribs and traces of methamphetamine in his system.
Cuts were found on Cody's wrists and arms as he harmed himself with a weapon. His self-harm led to officers attempting to restrain him, according to Campbell's news release.
A death classified as a "homicide" by the coroner, Wright stated, does not equate to "a legal determination that an act of murder, manslaughter or other crime occurred."
Allmon cited a medical examiners' guide, which classified homicide as "a 'neutral' term and neither indicates nor implies criminal intent, which remains a determination within the provinces of legal processes."
As part of the release, Allmon included the postmortem examination report done by Dr. Nathaniel Patterson.
Cody was arrested for aggravated domestic battery and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon (knife). Cody had not been formally charged by the state's attorney's office at the time of the incident.
No charges in relation to Cody's death have been filed.
Campbell did not immediately respond to a phone call Friday afternoon.
A small group of protesters showed up at the Sangamon County Building Friday evening, chalking "Justice for Jaimeson" and demanding Campbell's resignation.
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