The Savannah Police Department (SPD) has been investigating the attempted hanging of a suspect within police custody for about eight months now. The incident occurred last December within an interview room despite changes to policies and procedures on interview room safety in response to the hanging death of William Harvey in April 2021.
Those changes specified that sergeants must ensure suspects under police custody remain under constant observation, whether through video recording or an officer's watch or both, and that the SPD unit keep a detailed log of interview room usage.
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While the suspect who was held in police custody is alive, at least three officers were suspended on temporary leave during the administrative and criminal investigations.
According to the SPD, the administrative investigation closed recently, but the criminal investigation into the attempted hanging remains open.
According to four officers who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of retaliation, at least two officers have returned to duty since their suspension. Another of the officers suspended, Advanced Police Officer (APO) Latrelle Gooddine, was fired on Aug. 9. Besides the attempted hanging, Gooddine is involved in another open internal affairs investigation into her connection with Rashiid Wright, a convicted felon who is currently facing murder charges.
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Although the SPD is not releasing details of the ongoing criminal investigation into the attempted hanging, the department did produce an initial police report of the incident leading to the unnamed suspect's arrest. The report details a burglary that occurred on Dec. 14, 2021, at approximately 10 a.m. within the 300 block of West 31st Street.
According to the report, the burglar kicked in the resident's door while the resident was in the bathroom showering. Two weeks prior, the resident's home had been broken into in the same manner. During that first burglary, the deadbolt on his door had split off from being forced open and about $3,000 in cash had been stolen.
Reports detailing the eventual arrest of the suspect and the attempted hanging at the Central Precinct, located on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, are subject to the ongoing criminal investigation and are not being released. SPD's own policy states a criminal investigation should be complete within 90 days - a deadline that passed March 14.
According to SPD's Public Information Officer Bianca Johnson, officers can be cleared to return to limited or full duty while an investigation is ongoing with the approval of the chief of police. The officer must also complete all inquiries from the Internal Affairs Division, re-qualify with their firearm and undergo and pass a psychiatric evaluation.
This is a developing story.
Nancy Guan is the general assignment reporter covering Chatham County municipalities. Reach her at email@example.com or on Twitter @nancyguann.
This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Months after hanging death, Savannah police investigate another attempt