Deaths of 2 inmates in Broward County are 'highly suspect,' public defender says

Middle-aged men died within days of each other, Gordon Weekes says

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County executive chief assistant public defender Gordon Weekes said it is "highly suspect" that two middle-aged inmates died unexpectedly at Broward facilities in just one week's time.

The first inmate reportedly died on June 1.

The public defender said the 41-year-old man's cries for help went ignored and that he'd not had food or water for some time.

"That is troubling," Weekes said. "There is a pattern that is emerging in the Broward County jail, and that pattern seems to be a pattern of neglect."

The public defender said the second inmate -- a 47-year-old man -- died a week later on June 7, just shy of his 48th birthday.

We're told the man was waiting to placed in a mental health treatment facility.

In a letter to Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony, Weekes wrote: "As the person ultimately responsible for the medical and mental health care of the inmates in your custody, these incidents should sound the alarm."

The letter also points out how years of federal oversight of Broward County's jails just ended in 2017.

"Last year, 10 inmates died in the jails. Having two inmates die in a week suggests that the problems that necessitated the court monitoring have resurfaced," Weekes said.

The deaths come weeks after a mentally ill man mutilated his own genitals while in isolation.

There was also the case of Tammy Jackson -- a mentally ill woman who gave birth alone in a cell while she was in isolation.

"You're talking about someone self-mutilating, you're talking about someone being forced to deliver a baby without any care and you're talking about two deaths in a very short period of time. That's troubling," Weekes said. 

The letter also documents another inmate who claims his medical issues are not being addressed, which is what the executive chief public defender said was the catalyst for the letter after they got word of those two deaths so close together.

The public defender also demanded an immediate investigation into the frequency of inmate deaths and timely health care procedures.

Local 10 News has contacted the Broward Sheriff's Office for comment and is awaiting a response. 

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