Burk Officers Reprimanded After Jail Death

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The Huffington Post reports two Burkburnett Police officers have been disciplined in connection to the hanging death of an inmate in the jail.
 
In March, 22-year-old Marcus Johnson was arrested for possessing a fake id and was then taken to Burkburnett city jail.
 
Officers say he later hanged himself with a drawstring.
 
The Huffington Post included the Johnson death in a story on jail deaths nationwide.
 
 It quoted  Burk City Manager Mike Whaley as saying the police department is evaluating its policies as a result of the death.
 
It also reported an internal investigation resulted in one officer getting a one day suspension and another a letter of reprimand.    
 
We contacted Whaley Thursday morning and he said he had not seen the Huffington Post story yet and could not comment on it.
 
He did say an open records request we submitted  for the report  on the investigation should be met Thursday, but as of 7 pm the report had not arrived.
 
Johnson’s mother says she made multiple phone calls to the jail that night trying to tell them her son was manic depressive and suicidal and needed his medication.
 
We spoke with Johnson’s mother, Shelly Parham, the day after his death.
 
“I said I need to give him his medicine.  I said , he is suicidal. He goes, ‘we know, we’re fixing to transport him within the hour, and then you can come down there and give him the medicine.  I knew he was in that state of mind because he hadn’t had it,” Shelly Parham said.
 
According to the Huffington Post’s copy of the internal investigation report,  Johnson told officers he was bipolar and needed his medication.
 
The report says Johnson told an officer he had attempted suicide three times, most recently 3 weeks earlier.
 
It also reported an officer asked him if he was feeling suicidal now, and that Johnson shook his head no.
 
Johnson’s girlfriend who was then 6 months pregnant and there during the time of his arrest has since had her baby. 
 
We spoke with Myra Brown just days after Johnson died.
 
“I was scared for him because it’s scary enough when you don’t have those problems to be in jail I can imagine. So when you have that on top of mental problems you feel alone, you feel hopeless, you feel, there’s no telling. I just know he was sad,” Marcus’ Girlfriend Myra Brown said.
 
Here is a look at the timeline, provided by the Burk Police Department.
 
6:18 Officer arrived at PD with Johnson and parked near back door.
 
6:20 Officer escorted Johnson into the back door of the PD and into the book-in area.  Johnson’s handcuffs were removed, he was searched and the booking paperwork got underway.
 
6:27 Officer asked medical questions from the book in form.
 
6:28 Officer asked Johnson if he had ever attempted suicide.  Johnson repsonded that he had.  Officer aksed how many times.  Johnson replied, “like 3”. Officer asked when the last time was.  Johnson said he had approximately three weeks prior.  Officer asked if he went to the hospital.  Johnson replied he went to the State Hospital.  Officer asked how and Johnson pointed to his inner elbow.
 
6:29 Johnson gave a list of his mental health conditions to Officer.
 
6:34  Officer escorted Johnson to a cell.  Johnson asked to make a phone call and Officer brought him back to the booking area.  
 
6:39 Johnson ended his phone call and was escorted to the jail cell.
 
7:00 Johnson’s mother, Shelly Parham, calls the police department.
 
7:14 Officer walked to the holding cells and checked on Johnson.
 
7:37 Officer called Shelly Parham back. 
 
8:43 Sounds can be heard on the camera’s audio that possibly came from the cells.
 
9:21 Officer finds Johnson hanging in his cell and yelled for other officers and medical personnel.
 
9:51 A Judge pronounced Johnson dead.
 

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