NM inmate dies after apparent suicide attempt

Jesse Sopiwnik, a former police officer, was found bleeding on the floor of his cell

By Christine Steele
Las Cruces Sun-News

SILVER CITY, N.M. — Inmate Jesse Sopiwnik, age 50, was found bleeding on the floor of his cell at the Grant County Detention Center Sunday morning, and died later, the victim of an apparent suicide, authorities said, however there is an ongoing investigation into the incident by the New Mexico State Police.

Grant County Attorney Abby Robinson said in a news release that Sopiwnik, a former police officer, was found bleeding on the floor of his cell just before 10 a.m. Sunday, from what appeared to be several self-inflicted cuts from a security shaving razor.

EMS and the New Mexico State Police were immediately notified of the incident, the county reported, and EMS arrived on the scene at approximately 9:53 a.m.

Sopiwnik was still alive and being treated by EMS when he left the facility, but the county was notified at approximately 10:20 a.m. that he had died while being treated at Gila Regional Medical Center.

Sopiwnik was booked into the Grant County Detention Facility on January 26, after allegedly violating his probation. He was on probation after serving approximately fifteen years in the State Penitentiary for aggravated battery, attempted murder, criminal sexual penetration, kidnapping, and larceny. Because Sopiwnik was a former police officer, he was kept in a segregated cell for his own protection, the county said.

The county said that while at the Detention Center, Sopiwnik exhibited no signs of being suicidal, and there were no obvious signs of foul play or policy violations related to the incident, which is being investigated by the New Mexico State Police.

This is the second serious incident at the jail in recent weeks. On Feb. 1, inmate Michael Scott Freeman walked away from a work detail inside the jail while serving time for violating a domestic violence order and using the telephone to terrify, intimidate or threaten. Crime Stoppers has offered $1,000 reward for information leading to his capture.

County Manager Jon Saari refused to comment on the operations at the jail, saying through Robinson that he felt like it was a personnel matter, but did say he appreciated the handling of this matter by the administration and staff, and commended county officers for the quick response. The county also said it sends its deepest condolences to Sopiwnik's friends and family.

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