Another jail inmate dies, the second in two days, but cases are unrelated and ‘no foul play’ in latest death, officials say

Chicago — Authorities are investigating the death of an inmate at the Cook County jail on Friday morning, the second in-custody death at the facility since Thursday evening. The cases are unrelated, and, unlike Thursday’s case, the latest death does not appear to involve foul play, according to the sheriff’s office.

A sheriff’s office spokesperson said that correctional staff found the 35-year-old unresponsive in his bed in the jail’s Residential Treatment Unit, 2700 South California, just before 9 a.m. on Friday.

Cermak Health Services at Cook County Jail | Cook County Health

Staff members called 911, and personnel from the jail’s medical facility, Cermak Health Services, administered life-saving measures until the Chicago Fire Department arrived, the spokesperson said. Officials said the man, identified by the Cook County medical examiner’s office as Melvin Turner, was pronounced dead at the scene at 9:19 a.m.

Turner arrived at the jail late Thursday night after an alternative housing provider withdrew its consent for him to reside in its facility while on electronic monitoring, according to a sheriff’s office statement, which did not identify Turner by name.

In February, Turner was put on electronic monitoring while he awaited trial on a felony retail theft charge. The sheriff’s office said he took up residence at a sober living facility, but the home withdrew permission after he was hospitalized for possible substance abuse. Sheriff’s office workers transported Turner to the jail after he was discharged from the hospital, and Cermak medical staff evaluated him before he was placed in the dorm on Thursday, the sheriff’s office said.

Turner is the seventh detainee to die at the jail this year, according to the medical examiner’s online database. That’s the same number of inmate deaths for all of 2022 and is consistent with full-year in-custody deaths for the years leading up to the COVID pandemic.

CWB Chicago reported last month that there are conflicting thoughts about what is driving the spike in jail deaths this year, with some suggesting an anomaly. Others believe illegal drugs smuggled into the facility are claiming more lives.

So far, the medical examiner has announced the cause of death for only one of this year’s cases: the fatal beating of Marvell Reasonover, 28, in his maximum security cell on Thursday evening.

Correctional workers found Reasonover unresponsive at 5:10 p.m. Thursday and began life-saving measures until Chicago Fire Department personnel arrived, the sheriff’s office said in a written statement. 

The sheriff’s office said Reasonover’s cellmate was “secured and led out of the cell.” The cellmate arrived at the jail in recent weeks after being charged in a high-profile murder case, according to the source. CWB Chicago is not identifying the cellmate because he has not been charged with wrongdoing in Reasonover’s death.

The Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force and the sheriff’s office are investigating the deaths of Reasonover and Turner.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com