Family Raises Questions About Inmate's Suicide

August 2, 2010 Updated Aug 2, 2010 at 11:29 PM EDT

By Laura Gray

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August 2, 2010 Updated Aug 2, 2010 at 11:29 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) -- A memorial to 25 year old Keith John is posted outside the Buffalo home he shared with his girlfriend Celina Irene. Irene is due next week with the couple's second child. She says he was a proud father, and looking forward to the baby on the way. That's why she can't understand how John could take his own life.

John's suicide at the Erie County Holding Center Saturday is the third this year. Irene says John was on probation when he was arrested late Tuesday night following a domestic incident. She claims she informed arresting officers that John would need medication Thursday. "It should have been on file that he has a mental illness and he needed his shot," she says.

Without that shot, Irene says John could sink into a deep depression. New procedures following a recent Justice Department law suit required jail officials to put John in a detox center for two days to sober up before he was moved to general housing. Saturday, a deputy on the unit says he saw John sitting on his bed as he passed the cell. Six-minutes later, John was dead.

Erie County Undersheriff Mark Wipperman said Sunday, "From the time he was in our custody to the time we found him hanging in his cell, he gave us no warning or indication he wanted to harm himself."

Just a month ago, officials led the media on a tour of the holding center to display their suicide prevention measures. The Sheriff's office says it followed every step of protocol, but John's family wants an investigation. Celina Irene has a lot of questions for officials at the Erie County Holding Center. "It just doesn't sit right with me that they were checking on him every fifteen minutes and he did that in a matter of six minutes." Irene says. She and his family are awaiting autopsy report. They're hoping that can shed light on whether he did receive the medication he needed to treat his mental illness.