Inmate’s Death Under Investigation

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by Allison Brown, Fox 8 Reporter

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The recent death of an inmate at the East Cleveland City Jail is causing major concern.  City leaders are questioning the amount of personnel on duty, and overall jail conditions because of what happened.

Authorities say Sterlyn Ezell, 42, was found dead in the early hours of Thanksgiving in his jail cell.  The death is being investigated as a suicide, but many are wondering how something like this had time to happen.

Ezell had run-ins with the law in the past, but was just booked on an assault charge and placed in a cell.  Authorities say his body was found a short time later, as they were bringing another inmate back.

"I can't remember the 14 years I've been on council that someone died in our jail, so that's a major concern," said Nathaniel Martin, East Cleveland City Councilman At Large.

According to officials, East Cleveland City Jail is usually staffed with one jail administrator, and two other officers.  Doing checks of the cells are common as well, but there’s concern after Ezell’s death that more help is needed.

“We need a timely status on how things are covered in the jail you know and personnel and everything,” said Ella Bowman, Ward Leader for the city.

Until more information is released about Thursday’s incident, East Cleveland City Councilman, Mansell Baker, says it’s hard to tell what could have been done differently to prevent this situation, but the goal is to make sure the jail is run smoothly.

"I believe our jail personnel are trained, it's just that we have a lack of personnel and any down time may have given window for such an incident of this magnitude to take place," said Baker, who serves Ward 4.

East Cleveland police, along with Internal Affairs are investigating the details of this incident.

Council plans to work closely with police and push for a thorough investigation, especially so the Ezell family can begin to heal.

"We were very, very close, he's a unique, genuine and intelligent person, and I just don't understand," said Monica Williams, a cousin.

"We want answers please, give us answers, we deserve answers," she said.