A 36-year-old Knoxville man died Nov. 17 while in the custody of the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office.
Jimmy Davis, LCSO chief deputy, said the death was a suicide. He declined comment on how the death occurred.
The case was turned over to 9th Judicial District Attorney General Russell Johnson’s office, who asked for Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to lead the inquiry.
Standard procedure is to involve TBI, Johnson said.
“It’s still ongoing, we haven’t heard anything back from them,” Davis said Monday. “They’re just taking all probably in consideration of different statements gathered by the TBI in interviews that were conducted by the TBI separate from the sheriff’s office. Once they come to a finding, they’ll notify the district attorney general and he’ll notify us.”
Davis did not believe TBI’s investigation would take long.
“This remains an ongoing investigation,” Susan Niland, TBI representative, said in an email correspondence. “Per TCA 10-7-504, we are not able to provide reports from our investigation.”
Johnson ordered an autopsy at the Knox County Regional Forensic Center. As of Monday, Davis said the results were not available.
Davis said the man faced theft of property and criminal impersonation charges locally, but he was also on hold for “multiple” outstanding warrants in Knox County.
He was arrested Nov. 6 in Loudon County.
Deaths have been rare at the county jail, Davis said. A female inmate attempted suicide in February and ultimately died after being transported to University of Tennessee Medical Center.
Inmates were moved in September into the new jail expansion, which has 264 beds. Officials stressed officer and inmate safety as a key reason for the addition.
“Any time you have human beings there and they have a purpose, you know, we raised some concerns with the new jail,” Davis said. “It’s just basically the way it is with the design of the jail, having that second level, there’s always that concern of someone trying to do something that way. There’s always concerns of they come up with many different ways of trying to hurt themselves, and, obviously, we do our checks mandated by law to try to hinder that or keep that down.
“We have a chaplain service that talks to the inmates there pretty regularly that if there’s something bothering them, to keep them from doing something like that,” he added. “It’s always a concern anytime, and we watch for that, and that’s why we do our checks every hour to make sure everybody’s good, that we do those every hour.”