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Investigation continues into Erie County Holding Center death

Posted at 5:45 PM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-15 17:45:23-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It was the early morning hours of Saturday, during morning meal service at the Erie County Holding Center when the Sheriff’s Office says an inmate was found unresponsive in his bed.

According to the Sheriff’s Office a medical response team tried to revive the inmate and “deployed an automatic defibrillator, but the device did not advise a shock.”

The inmate was pronounced dead.

We don’t know right now who the inmate is or how he died. There has been no cause of death released to the public.

According to the New York Commission on Corrections, this marks the 32nd death at the Erie County Holding Center since 2005, the year Sheriff Tim Howard was first elected.

Last month, the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team told you about a report from the State Commission of Correction that found there were been more than 400 serious incidents at the Erie County Holding Center in 2019.

Sheriff Howard announced this year he will not seek re-election.

There are currently four candidates in the running to succeed him.

Brian Gould, the endorsed Democrat who is currently the Cheektowaga Assistant Police Chief says.

“This incident must be thoroughly investigated so we have a full understanding of what transpired and where the accountability lies. Last week’s county legislature hearing with Tim Howard highlights the failure of leadership that has undermined the Sheriff’s Office, and news of yet another inmate death raises serious questions because of past tragedies at the jail.”

Ted DiNoto, who is currently a police Lieutenant in Amherst is running without an endorsement. He says,

“Until a cause of death has been determined, it is hard to speculate on if this death was preventable. I am very concerned about the number of deaths at the Holding Center over the past 10 years. I am equally as concerned about the number of inmates in custody every day who suffer from mental health and substance abuse challenges.”

DiNoto says he will be releasing a proposal in the near future as it relates to mental health and the prison system.

We also tried to reach the Republican endorsed candidate Karen Healy-Case, but we did not hear back.

Democrat Myles Carter says he will be releasing a statement on the incident at a later time.

The Erie County Sheriff’s Office says the investigation is ongoing.