SLED still investigating death of 16-year-old that led to DJJ officer suspensions

07/28/2014 3:01 PM

07/28/2014 3:02 PM

SLED is still investigating the death of a 16-year-old at a S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice facility that resulted in the suspension of three officers.

Correctional officers Jason Santones and Curtis Isaac as well as shift supervisor Lt. Lyndon Mickens have all been suspended indefinitely pending an investigation by the State Law Enforcement Division and the Inspector General for the Department of Juvenile Justice, department spokeswoman Loretta Neal said.

Kathryn Richardson, a SLED spokeswoman, confirmed the investigation is ongoing.

Alan C. Cottrell was found dead, with a bed sheet tied around his neck, about 11:30 p.m. July 13 in his assigned dorm at the Broad River Road detention center, according to reports. Richland County Coroner Gary Watts confirmed Cottrell died from asphyxiation by hanging.

Cottrell was transported to DJJ’s detention center April 21 on charges related to burglary first degree, which is classified as a violent crime.

“When tragic incidents such as this do occur and thankfully, they occur very infrequently – with the last such incident occurring at DJJ in the mid 1980s, almost 30 years ago –they are investigated just as this incident,” Neal said in a news release.

According to Neal, Santones began his career as a correctional officer at DJJ in July 2010 while Isaac began in August 2011, receiving salaries under $30,000. Both correctional officers were assigned and physically located in the wing where Cottrell’s dorm was located.

Mickens, who was shift supervisor on duty during the time of Cottrell’s death, was promoted to lieutenant in February 2012, receiving a salary between $34,000-$38,000. He began his career at DJJ as a correctional officer in April 2005.

According to the procedural standards at DJJ, curfew is enforced at 9 p.m. and lights out is called at 9:15 p.m. After that, checks are conducted in the detention center, where Cottrell was being held, every 15 minutes where “the (correctional officer) will ensure that each juvenile is present by shining a flashlight on the juvenile’s upper or lower extremities to observe the juvenile’s flesh.”

It is unclear when the last time Cottrell was checked on by correctional officers, which is part of the investigation by SLED and the Inspector General.

Until the investigation is completed, there will be no criminal or civil charges set against those suspended, Neal said.

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