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Overdose suspected in the latest death of a person in custody of Louisville jail

Drugs could be behind the ninth in-custody death at Louisville Metro Department of Corrections since November.  

Daniel Johnson, president of FOP Lodge 77, which represents Metro Corrections officers, said signs point to a fentanyl overdose, after the man, who hasn’t yet been identified, was found unresponsive just before 5 p.m. Friday. 

LMDC officials said he was treated and transported to University of Louisville Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. Autopsy results aren't in yet, according to Johnson. 

Johnson said security footage showed the man was still standing when he became unresponsive, and that several others in custody moved him to a bed. According to Johnson, the other people periodically splashed water on his face before calling for help about 20 minutes later.

“Their decision to try to conceal it, I believe, cost this person his life,” Johnson said. He added that he believes criminal charges will be filed. 

Johnson said a K9 investigating the unit indicated a small amount of fentanyl remained at the jail after the incident. That’s being tested at the Kentucky State Police lab. 

LMDC spokesperson Maj. Darrell Goodlett said Monday morning investigators suspect drugs were involved with the death, but that they hadn’t yet confirmed it. He did not provide information on whether drugs had been found. 

Deaths at the jail have been an ongoing issue. The man found Friday is the ninth person to die in custody of the jail since November.

Former Metro Corrections Director Dwayne Clark retired in March, after the seventh death in five months. He was replaced by Lt. Col. Jerry Collins. 

Johnson said security measures have improved in recent months to try to block drugs from coming in – including scanning mail and adding the K9 unit. But he said it’s an evolutionary process. 

“You'll find the source of contraband coming in, you'll stop it and it'll dry up for several months, and then somebody crafty will come up with something new to find a way around, and then we'll have to discover what that is, put a stop to it, and then it'll dry up for a while,” he said. 

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.

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