OGDEN, Utah — An internal affairs report says a jail officer in Utah’s Davis County complained that someone reported to the county attorney that an inmate died after suffering a ruptured spleen in her cell last December, a newspaper reported Tuesday.
The document obtained by the Standard-Examiner (http://bit.ly/2tZWeyG) under a public records request said that a Davis County prosecutor’s office investigator, Craig Webb, in February documented a phone call in which jail Lt. Kenny Hammon referred to a “snitch” in the jail.
The report said Hammon complained that a supervisor yelled at him for becoming involved in a Weber County Sheriff’s Office investigation of the death of Heather Miller, 28.
It is not unusual for a jail death to be investigated by an outside agency.
Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings told the newspaper that his office is investigating the internal affairs report.
The Utah Attorney General’s Office later determined that Miller’s injuries were not the result of criminal conduct.
Miller had been arrested Dec. 20 on suspicion of drug possession. An autopsy found she died of a spleen injury that jailers attributed to a Dec. 21 fall from the top bunk in her cell.
An earlier investigation by Weber County detectives concluded that jail officials cleaned the cell, possibly removing evidence, after Miller was taken by ambulance to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Webb’s report said Hammon asked to talk about a “snitch” in the jail and wanted to keep the conversation confidential.
Notification of the county attorney’s office by the sheriff’s office, which runs the jail, has become a point of conflict between the two agencies.
Rawlings said the sheriff’s office did not alert his office to Miller’s death, nor to the apparent suicide last August of jail inmate Dominic Landreth. The county attorney told the Standard-Examiner that his office must be notified when someone dies in custody.
Davis County Sheriff Todd Richardson did not respond to several messages from the newspaper.
Utah is not among states that require county jails to publicly announce in-custody deaths.
The Standard-Examiner said it used public records requests, obtained reports from Utah’s 29 county jails on deaths in 2016. It tallied at least 23 jail deaths statewide, the most since at least 2000.
Information from: Standard-Examiner, http://www.standard.net