County Correctional Officers Cleared In Death Of Inmate
WILKES-BARRE — Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis has cleared county correctional officers of any wrongdoing in the death of an inmate in June.
Shaheen Mackey, 41, of Berwick, died June 8 in Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, two days after being restrained during a violent jailhouse confrontation at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility.
While county officials had maintained Mackey experienced a medical emergency during the struggle, Mackey’s family alleged he was effectively beaten to death by corrections officers, citing the bruised and battered body they encountered at the hospital.
Mackey family attorney Theron Solomon slammed Salavantis’ ruling, saying she was biased from the beginning as district attorneys often are in use-of-force cases involving law enforcement.
“It’s Luzerne County finding Luzerne County not at fault. There should have been an investigation by someone other than the district attorney,” Solomon said.
Solomon said he still plans to file a lawsuit.
In her news release Wednesday, Salavantis said Mackey suffered from severe coronary artery disease and that the sudden, lengthy and violent outburst he initiated led to his death from heart failure.
An autopsy determined Mackey died from natural causes.
According to Salavantis’ findings:
On June 6, Mackey was transferred to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility. According to inmate witnesses, at approximately 6:45 p.m. Mackey “inexplicably began screaming and making loud noises as though arguing with himself.”
He was drooling and ripping out his hair.
Mackey’s cellmate yelled for help when Mackey became violent, flailing his arms. The cellmate began pleading with Mackey to calm down and advised that help was on the way.
Mackey continued flailing and began spitting, the inmate said.
Multiple corrections officers tried to restrain Mackey and advised him to stop resisting, but “the episode continued until Mackey became unresponsive,” Salavantis wrote.
Inmate witnesses specifically indicated that they did not see anyone strike Mackey during the incident, which is corroborated by the videos of the incident, the district attorney said.
Mackey, who had a couple previous drug arrests, was sent to jail June 6 for an alleged violation of a protection-from-abuse order.
A video Mackey posted to Facebook mere days before the deadly confrontation shows him holding a Pennsylvania Department of Human Services form that reads he was diagnosed with a “transient altered mental state” and can have “homicidal outbursts” and “get physically violent.”
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